Can Catholics attend Protestant services?


#1

I am an underemployed “cradle Catholic” single woman in my 50s. Lately, I have been very discouraged with the parishes in my archdiocese. Many are really for various ethnic groups with Masses and parish ministries held in languages other than English. I have never met anyone at Mass, but now that I am older, people shun me to the point where the “offer each other a sign of peace” part of the Mass is a source of dread because of the reluctant, curt nods I usually get from others.

I have tried to join groups in two parishes (e.g. choir, children’s liturgy), but the “old groups” always make it clear that newcomers like myself are not welcome. Although I believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church, more and more I dread going to Mass, and I would like to attend a non-denominational Protestant church because the people are more welcoming, there are many ministries to join, and the praise and worship is uplifting. I know that we have the Eucharist, and would still attend Mass on Saturday night, but I feel as though I can get to know Jesus (and the gospel) better at the Protestant church. I have tried talking about this to priests but they are always too busy, and dealing with families and the young is a top priority. Basically, I feel totally unwelcome, and if I would just give the church money, and be “invisible” that would be the best. Is it all right for Catholics to attend Protestant services, provided they follow the rules of the Church (e.g., attending Mass on Sunday)?


#2

As sympathetic as I feel toward your situation, and to some extent I do understand that situation as I am a single woman who is 40, what you suggest is treating the holy sacrifice of Christ in the Mass as a duty to be crossed off a Catholic To-Do List while these Protestant services would be where you would “really” worship Christ and hang out with people you like more than you do your fellow Catholics. I am sorry to have to put that so bluntly, but you must understand the gravity of what you are proposing.

Besides the fact that the awesome privilege of being near Christ himself in his unbloody sacrifice re-presented in time and space is not just a dull obligation that you must seek to “enliven” with “praise and worship” services elsewhere, regular attendance at Protestant services is both a scandal to others and a grave threat to your own faith. You will be listening on a regular basis to flawed presentations of the gospel of Christ, and you will be interacting with people who will be encouraging you to abandon your Catholic faith. And, given your own flawed understanding of the Mass demonstrated in your question, you evidently will be vulnerable to such suasion to leave the Church.

Bottom line: No, Catholics cannot attend Protestant services when they are doing so because they find the Catholic Mass and those who attend it to be “unwelcoming.”

As I said though, I do sympathize with you. Perhaps you could call your archdiocese and ask what kind of services and ministries are available to older Catholic singles in your area. If there are none, perhaps you could use some of the free time you wanted to fill with participation in established groups to put together a program of your own for older Catholic singles to propose to your pastor and/or your archdiocese. You might also ask your archdiocese if there are any third order groups for lay Catholics in your area. If there are, perhaps you might try to discern if you have a vocation to one of them.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.