Attending Protestant Services

Fr. Serpa said this in the AAA section responded to a question (partial quote given)

“No Catholic is ever forced to attend a Protestant church service. In fact, Catholics are forbidden to worship in such Churches—let alone receiving their form of eucharist.”

Is it really true that Catholics are forbidden to attend a Protestant service? I became a Christian in a wonderfully loving Protestant church in town. I have since become a Catholic but I still have good friends back at the Protestant and I enjoy worshipping with them from time to time (never instead of Sunday mass but in addition to it).

It seems rather severe to declare that Catholics are forbidden to attend Protestant churches.

Well, you may certainly not receive Communion in a Protestant service or participate actively in what may be considered the equivalent of our sacraments; this is what the Church calls communicatio in sacris—sharing in sacred rites—and to participate actively in them would imply adhesion to Protestantism and departure from the Catholic faith. This prohibition is considered by most traditional theologians to be of divine origin. In fact, the former discipline of the Church went further and prohibited any attendance at Protestant services, except for those services attendance at which is required by civil comity, such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, and the like, on the grounds that, though not strictly forbidden by divine law, such attendance could be dangerous to the integrity of the faith of the Catholic party, a prudential judgment on the part of the Church. Now, however, this latter prohibition is no longer in force, and Catholics may attend non-Catholic services, provided that they do not participate in any aspects of the service which are contrary to the Catholic faith—and, of course, is the service is filled with anti-Catholic elements, attendance would be problematic—and that in their considered judgment the spiritual good coming from such attendance will outweigh any possible harm. This is called communicatio in spiritualibus, sharing in spiritual things. Also, it would be unwise to attend non-Catholoic services so often as to give rise either to the reality or to the appearance of indifference.

When I was a teenager, my parents left the RCC and joined a protestant church. While I was a minor living at home, they insisted I go w/ them to their services so we could all go to church as a family, but they would still drive me to mass in the evening (I even sang in the choir!). I didn’t mind the music, I felt I could participate in most of that, but sometimes the sermons would grate a bit if they contradicted Catholic teaching–especially when it came to the topic of remarriage after divorce.

I did flatly refuse to attend the special monthly services at the protestant church where they had a symbolic “communion” (crackers and grape juice). I told my parents rather directly that I saw no point, since I had the real thing, and not just a symbol every Sunday at mass.

My parents have been back in the RCC now for the last 4 years, partly out of their desire to recieve the Eucharist again.

Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.:thumbsup:

I attended RCIA a few years ago and was taught that I could attend a Protestant service but should never take communion there.

My Grandparents were Methodist and my family still attends their old Church when we visit relatives in Tennessee. They never give communion in that Methodist Church.

For me it seems kind of interesting, even exciting, to go to a Protestant service, see how “the other half” worships. Not that I would ever leave the Catholic Church, that is something I would never consider doing. But the Protestant services do have certain sections or parts that I like, just as I have my favorite moments during the Catholic Mass.

It’s fine for us to passively attend Protestant churches, but we cannot actively take part in the worship service. For example, we shouldn’t sing in the choir or be a lector at a Protestant church. And we cannot take communion at their churches, or participate in any of their worship rituals such as altar calls, raising your hands or shouting, speaking in tongues, etc.

Hm since to me America protestant does practise alittle different from my country. In this side of my world, all protestant welcome those Catholic Christian to our church to join us in our worshipping and prayer, whether you wanted to sing out loud pray out loud during our service is your own personel choice (since that is your devotion of service time to God). As for Holy Communion we practise open communion to all Christ believers, but i just wonder why would Catholic wanted to partake communion in a protestant church since Catholics always claim that protestant does not have the real presence. Offering is not a must for non members in our church (this is up to you)

Well if you are not a member of a protestant church you won’t be call to serve in the ministry and won’t be allow to do so. As for communion what is the point of you partaking in a protestant church since RC has the real presence and it is pointless to you to partake when you don’t believe our version of the communion. Responding to altar calls, depending on what situation usually altar calls are meant for non believers who wish to respond to Jesus’s call as their savior, other altar calls which u mean might be for deliverance, even if you response and does not believe in it , you won’t get the effect either…Raising your hands, why not?? You are surrending yourself to God when you raise your hand to worship him, i witness that in RC in my country and i always do that when i attend Mass, no problem for me as God never kick me out from the Mass :), speaking in tongue is speaking to God and not to man, if you harbour thoughts of speaking in tongue out loud then you can always keep in down for yourself , no problem since no church will force you to speak in tongue loud…it is your choice.

Well, as far as Communion goes, we are forbidden to take communion in non-Catholic churches, because communion is a sign of oneness of belief. If you take communion in a protestant church, it’s like you’re saying that you believe in their heretical form of communion.

As far as other forms of participation… personally I woudln’t want to be involved at all in a Protestant service. I go to Protestant services sometimes and just sit there and listen, but I would never respond to an alar call, because that’s also like saying you believe what they teach.

Remember, despite their good intentions, those churches are heretical. They teach heresy. We shouldn’t participate in their services in such a way as to condone their teachings. We might have a lot in common with them, but it’s still not the same. They aren’t in full communion with us.

I was under the impression that one was forbidden to attend a Protestant service in place of Mass. Meaning that one could in theory attend (not partaking in Communion of course) as long as they attended Mass as well.

That’s right. It’s forbidden to miss Mass on Sunday, period.

But yeah, it’s fine to go to a Protestant service in addition to Mass, but we must maintain a passive role and not partake of communion there.

I would even go so far as to say we shouldn’t actively participate in their worship service at all, but that’s just what I would do personally. I’m not quite sure the Church teaches on that.

It would appear to me as a strange practise should RC forbid Catholic to attend a protestant service, because i am 100% sure God never teaches that. (as for communion, yup it is gd to understand where you are coming from). Even for me missing service would send my spirit very very dry…i cannot miss my service even thought protestant does not label that as mortal sin failing to go for church service. However as a spirit filled christian you would know what you miss should you fail to attend church. Even if i unable to find a protestant church at a place where i am in during my outstation on job purpose i will still try to go for service in a church (be in a methodist/Anglican/Catholic) i need my daily bread…:smiley:

Since becoming Catholic, I have no desire to attend a Protestant service, as the real meaning and act of worship, the Eucharist, is absent. Everything else seems almost like a show to me anymore. :frowning:

And it is unfortunately true, you don’t know when something that is contrary to Catholic teaching is going to take place or be taught. I know that even when I listen to Protestant Christian radio, I find so much of the content of sermons more offensive than I ever thought I would. You just have to be careful and be very grounded in your faith, know what you believe and why and don’t be persuaded by emotional arguments against what you know is true.

Occasionally, I attend Protestant services because I have Lutheran and Methodist family members and friends. It is never a substitue for Mass. I always go to Mass first before even thinking of going to a Protestant service. I also never attend Protestant services when they are celebrating “the Lord’s Supper”, which is easy enough for me because they only have that service once a month or once every two months. I would not think of taking “communion” in a Protestant church because it’s only a symbol for them, but I have the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Catholic Communion. I do like the music/singing at the Protestant services, and the ones that I have been to never had any direct anti-Catholic preaching by the ministers. As far waving hands in the air during worship, I see nothing wrong with that if the Holy Spirit moves me to do so. I have been at charismatic Catholic Masses where the majority of the congregation was clapping and waving their hands in the air. I have never done this yet at a Mass or at a Protestant service, so I guess the Holy Spirit has not called me to do this; but I am open if He inspires me to do so. I do listen to some Protestant radio and watch some Protestant TV shows (Dr. Charles Stanley, Chuck Colson, and Rev. Billy Graham are the Protestant preachers I like). Rev. Graham is a friend of Catholics (a lady from my Catholic parish volunteered at his last crusade). I admire Chuck Colson because he found the Lord in prison after he was part of the Watergate scandel and now has a prison ministry. I admire people who do prison ministry (God Bless Sr. Prejean!).

ok , have to ask since i have been reading your posts for a long time. where are you?

It does seem harsch at first until you think about the goal that Jesus had for his church which was unity.

I read your original post. If it is true you can not make it to a mass then i have a hard time seeing this as wrong.

I have to agree with your choices above. :slight_smile: Charles Stanley used to be one of my favorites when I was Evangelical, he has a very sincere and sweet Christian spirit. He doesn’t get tangled up in a lot of what I call trendy-Christianity. Chuck Colson is a brilliant Christian apologist and is extremely ecumenical minded, and he has no fear of the secular world. And of course, Billy Graham, who in their right mind could ever say ill of him, it would be a crime; a beautiful Christian, a true warrior for the Gospel of Christ.

I am from Singapore a small tiny country in Asia.

Thank you! :love: I also admire Chuck Colson because he relates the Christian life with the secular life, particularly on political issues. He has done many radio programs to promote the pro-life cause, unlike many so-called Catholic politicians who are not living out their faith by being pro-abortion.

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