Can Catholics attend a Protestant service?

Sunday obligation. I am an usher at my church. :slight_smile:

I went to Mass with an open mind and heart and liked it and felt God’s presence there. I may go back some day but I also like my church and feel God’s presence there, too, and see God touching and working in the lives of many people at my local church.

While there are many nice, respectful and decent Catholics on this site, I also run into my share of those who think that it’s only Protestants who should do the bending and go to Catholic worship services but Catholics shouldn’t ever attend a Protestant church unless it is for the sake of a protestant family member or spouse.

Otherwise, they contend, (even on this thread) if you go you should wear your “filters” or wear a proverbial closepin on your nose because there’s going to be a lot of “errors” to sift through. I find very that very disrespectful.

While some protestants have misconceptions of Catholicism and are prejudiced against it, it is obvious to me that some Catholics are prejudiced about protestant beliefs and churches and paint all of them with the same brush. Regardless of whether it is Catholics or Protestants doing the talking, it is wrong to lump every member of a group or a faith tradition together.

Personally, I don’t like it when protestants do that to Catholics and I don’t like it the other way around, either.

There is nothing wrong with what you describe and it’s very good. The only issue is that it takes a very special person to do that on a weekly basis. Doing this for time to time with a friend is very good for the reasons you mention.

But for a Catholic to do this every week, he/she must be strong in their Faith, be very patient, and able to evangelize without upsetting other members of the Protestant church.

Unfortunately, a lot of Catholics are not strong enough to (1) defend their Faith or (2) not get lead away; or if they are strong enough, may not have the patience.

But for the people who can do this, it’s a very good way to teach about the Faith.

Another good way is to exchange books.

No. Quite the reverse. The liberals lose by a larger margin at every General Conference, and are extremely frustrated, to the point of considering leaving the UMC.

I am frustrated by the fact that UM conservatives seem to see homosexuality as the primary battle and abortion as a secondary issue, whereas in my view the situation is exactly the opposite. The UMC’s official position remains staunchly conservative on homosexuality, while it is confused and ambiguous on abortion.

I’ll be shocked if they don’t during the next general conference (2016 I believe).

I’ll be shocked if they do. More likely they will start talking about dividing the denominational assets and separating into two denominations, so they don’t keep butting heads every four years to no purpose. I hope they don’t do that, but it seems that more and more folks on both sides are talking about it as a lesser evil to the present gridlock.

But really that is beside the point. My original point stands - yes there are elements of sanctification and truth in the Protestant world, but there is also error and evil. The elements of truth and goodness can also be found in the Church - without the officially sanctioned error.

Unfortunately, in practical, empirical terms this is obviously not the case. The “fullness of truth” claim is only tenable in this form: that the Catholic dogmas are compatible with all truth. That is a believable, and indeed compelling claim. The claim that all elements of truth are currently expressed and practiced in the Catholic Church is patently false, and you simply discredit the case for Catholicism when you expect people to believe something so absurd.

Furthermore, the primary reason for attending services of another Christian body is to express fellowship with believers of that tradition. Conservative Catholics seem to think of worship in solely vertical terms, excluding the importance of fellowship among believers. This is one of those elements of truth which is not well expressed in Catholicism as currently constituted, particularly in its most aggressively “orthodox” forms. (Many American parishes do try to foster fellowship, but usually in clumsy and heavy-handed ways, which more traditional Catholics understandably resent.)


If you have actually read the UM statements, you can see that this isn’t the case–they express concern for the life of the unborn. Not enough, I agree–the statement on “responsible parenthood” is particularly horrible in my opinion.


The problem is that you cannot be partially in favor of abortion and still consider yourself pro life. If you do, you become judge and jury over a life, one who has no way to advocate for his/her self. Anyway, we are both straying from the topic of this thread.

I’m not afraid of being thrown off target by another church. If I’m not friendly enough to go to their service, why should they come to mine?

You know as well as I do that there isn’t a lot that Catholics agree on too. Look at all the factions in Catholicism. Something about people in glass houses…

try googling the percentage of Catholics that support abortion. Catholics are the ones that are allowing abortion supporting politicians to stay in office. If Catholics could be counted on to vote against pro abortion politicians, it would be difficult for abortion to exist.

I grew up in a Baptist Church and loved my time there. A very good friend of mine is now pastoring that church and I visit when I can. Last week was one of those times.

I love the Catholic Church and there are things there that I can find nowhere else. I’m more comfortable now, than I ever have been being in a body of believers where their doctrine was more like my own.

There are things about my old Baptist Church that are unique too. They are very friendly and outgoing, they love God and it’s a shame that there has always been a doctrinal wedge in between me and them. However, if you went to a Baptist Church for a month, there would be very little you would hear there that you would dispute. The sermons are better, the Baptist Hymnal is better and the Baptists actually sing the songs. I’ll visit again and it will be enjoyable. It’s not the Catholic Church but it is certainly an honorable worship.

Wait! Are you calling me a flawed and imperfect sinner??!

Put 'em up! :smiley:

You will find many differing opinions across the whole spectrum of Catholicism. For instance here is one from a CAL apologist…

In the first place a Catholic has no business attending Protestant church services even occasionally. To participate in a heretical worship service and especially a communion service can be sinful for a Catholic because such an act is an affirmation of what we believe to be untrue. To attend an ecumenical service or a wedding or baptism is allowed, but Catholics are not allowed to attend such churches for the main reason of worship. Now if there are no Catholic churches in the vicinity on a Sunday, Catholics are allowed to participate in the Liturgy of Churches whose clergy are validly ordained such as the Eastern Orthodox Churches—including the reception of the Eucharist. Although we consider them to be in schism (not in union with the Pope) with the Catholic Church, such Churches are not heretical and share our basic beliefs.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

I think the ecumenical benefit that the Catholic Church is talking about is a prayer service as Fr. Serpa is alluding to not an actual worship service in a protestant community.

I’ve read Fr. Serpa’s opinion on the matter and disagree with him.

You will note that the reason the OP cited for wanting to attend is NOT because he misses their services or wishes to worship as they do, but because he misses the PEOPLE who all happen to be there in one place at one time.

So while Fr. Serpa’s opinion has significant merit, I’m not sure I’d always agree with him and I don’t think the context of his opinion is directly applicable here.

To the OP, don’t mind us. We like to examine issues for the mental sharpening it provides. We’re not arguing. Really! :wink:

Why can’t the OP make friends in his Catholic church? That question has been in the back of my mind from the first of this thread.

I would say that the particular Catholic circles that you spend time in are not representative of Catholicism.

Would “Catholic circles” include this forum?

I’m reluctant to say yes or no because of the technicalities of the question. After all, it’s the “Non-Catholic Religions Forum”, not the “Catholic Religions Forum”. :o :cool:

But it was applicable to your comment…

You may take some flak for it from certain types of folks in the EF catholic community though. IMO, they’re just being snobs.

There are differing opinions about the value of attending a service at a protestant community by many in Catholicism not just Traditionalists and having nothing to do with snobbery.

Online, that’s correct. However, I do know a lot of Catholics in “real life” who don’t fit this profile at all, particularly in the academy.

The main reason I spoke as I did is not so much my experience with Catholics but my experience with Protestants, especially Episcopalians. My former priest, for instance, seriously believed that Catholics think themselves to be the only true Christians. (At the same time, my bishop was a friend of Fr. Richard O’Brien and both he and my priest clearly liked the fact that Fr. O’Brien told him that Anglicans were basically just as Catholic as Catholics, and might even have a better way of doing things. But when our diocese hosted an official Catholic-Anglican dialogue, then-Bishop D’Arcy insisted on Fr. Lawrence Cunningham rather than Fr. O’Brien as the Catholic representative. I think Bishop D’Arcy was quite right to do so–Fr. Cunningham is a much better representative of Catholicism as a whole than Fr. O’Brien on the one hand or Fr. Serpa on the other! But this reinforced the impression my priest had that someone as friendly to Anglicans as Fr. O’Brien wasn’t representative of official Catholicism. I should also recognize that Northern Indiana Catholicism is pretty conservative compared to Catholicism in some other parts of the country.)



Ah, I see. You took my first post as an assertion that anyone opposed to a catholic attending a protestant service is a snob. That’s not what I meant. I was responding specifically to the OP and for the circumstances he described, not making a universal and general statement.

I get the concern and share it generally. I’ve seen many partially formed cradle catholics evangelized by evangelicals and then persuaded that the reason it hadn’t happened earlier was because they didn’t attend a “bible believing” church that preached the true gospel. Nice and handy that scapegoating. Not MY fault that I was resistant to humbling myself, admitting my sin and need for a Savior for so long. It was THEIR fault. Perhaps not so humble yet after all, eh?..

I just didn’t think that the OP was in much danger of that scenario and my responses have reflected that. Thanks for making me clarify. My post shouldn’t be considered a general opinion on the matter, but a specific opinion on the OP’s circumstances.

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