Can Catholics pray with Protestants?

I’ve heard a confusing mess of answers on this issue, I think I should maybe pay a visit to the local church and ask the priest there. But for now I’d like to ask: is there anything scandalous in Catholicism about praying with Protestants? Or is it fine? I could have sworn the current Pope gave the pass to do it.

Where has it been prohibited?

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You can pray with Protestants. Catholics just can’t pray for anything that goes against the teachings of the Church and can’t receive Protestant Holy Communion. For example, if the Protestant was praying that the Catholic Church would be destroyed or for the downfall of the Pope, then you wouldn’t join that prayer. If he was praying for peace and unity on earth, then you could join in that prayer with no problem.

My husband was Protestant and we would sometimes pray together. I’ve also been to Protestant weddings and funerals and occasional evangelical meetings and we all pray together there. Protestants also join in the March for Life and there are opportunities to pray with them there for an end to abortion.

By the way, this is not something that just started with the current Pope. It’s been this way since at least Vatican 2.

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No idea, I’ve just heard the claim from some FSSP friends. Could be hearsay so I wanted to ask.

Thanks for the answer, but are you saying it wasn’t the same before V2?

Not in of itself. I have many Protestant relatives and during Thanksgiving, we pray together before the meal. If you’re going through a rough time, you can even ask a Protestant to pray for you. Of course, it depends on what it is that they are praying for. So long as it isn’t for something that goes against Catholicism, it’s alright to pray with them.

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Praying with Protestants and marrying them and visiting their churches was definitely much more discouraged pre-Vatican II than it is today. A Catholic would be expected to talk to their priest before doing such things, and the priest might warn them against it or even forbid it.

FSSP are traditionalists. They hold the older view that is much less ecumenical.

I would add that prior to Vatican II, a lot of Protestant church members in US didn’t want Catholics praying with them either. Some still don’t.

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Well, it’s all history now. I was not Catholic back then, having been received into the Church during the pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II.

The purpose of the prayer matters. If it is for a universal good, of course. If it is for, example, a successful mission to a Catholic nation, I would not and cannot pray for that.

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I second that. And it saddens me when I see the ‘work’ they do in Latin American countries.

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Fair enough. Thanks for the answers, esp Tis_Bearself!

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When DW and I were in El Salvador some years back, there was a group of LDS missionaries staying a few houses away. On the chance that some of them were feeling a bit homesick, we hosted them for a spaghetti dinner. Of course, before and after, we prayed for their ultimate failure, and that the truth of the Gospel would appeal to them.

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Praying with Protestants, or anyone else who is not Catholic, is fine as long as it does not lead to religious indifferentism (“their religion is just as good as ours is”) or leave them with the impression that we agree with their religion when we don’t. Many non-Catholics are infected with a kind of Masonic indifferentism that says, in effect, “only the things we have in common are absolutely certain”, and they view the different denominations — Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc. — as being different valid manifestations of Christianity, much as Latin Rite Catholics can (and should) regard the various Eastern sui juris churches in union with Rome. We say of these particular Eastern churches “they have a different spirituality, different terminology, different emphasis, but it is the same truth, and it is just as good as what we say and do, and vice versa”. That’s how Protestants view each other (and how they view us as well!).

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Some “traditionals” have too much confusion. Some are pretty wise but many have too many opinions and confusion.

Well said!!!
Best post about this issue in a long time!

That’s a bit of an overly broad statement. I would say it is frequently true of mainstream Protestant denominations in our current era. However, I could definitely show you Protestants who would vehemently disagree with that statement.

Best to not make generalizations about how “Protestants” think. They aren’t one monolithic group.

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When I say “Protestants”, I refer only to the denominations that claim this title — Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Reformed, and so on. Baptists vehemently deny that they are Protestants. I do not normally think of Pentecostals, Holiness, Assembly of God, Church of God (any of them, Cleveland TN, Anderson IN, and so on) as being Protestants either. When I was a child, I occasionally went to the COG (don’t remember which branch), they give powerful witness and I liked it very much. Their Vacation Bible School was amazing.

Some use “Protestant” as a shorthand term for “non-Catholic Christians who are not Eastern Orthodox”. That’s not quite right.

There are groups — the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) comes immediately to mind — that are convinced they have the most perfect version of Christian truth. For most Protestants I’ve encountered, though, they may be a Lutheran at one point in their lives, a Presbyterian at another point, and so on. It’s really a fairly indifferent issue to them, and has more to do with “how they grew up” or “the way they were raised”. Or they may choose a “compromise church” if they marry someone of another denomination. And of course there is the matter of “this church believes the most like I do” — picking the church that suits you, so to speak, instead of recognizing “the truth” and changing oneself to conform to it.

I do get the impression that they would like us just to “get over ourselves already” (as they see it), just be another Christian denomination, squash the differences we have with them, and have all of us to be “good Christians”. That’s a quasi-Masonic mentality — “our differences aren’t nearly as important as our similarities”.

of course, we can pray with anyone as long as we are praying to Godand not a pagan idol

I appreciate that you have your own concept of “Protestants”. However, the term in general English usage includes Evangelicals, Pentecostals and dozens of other churches that aren’t mainstream Protestant.

They are also not all indifferent as to what church they belong to, or they are only indifferent to a certain degree. None of my Presbyterian relatives would have switched to Episcopalian, for example. They considered it “Catholic”.

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I choose to use the term as it is historically accurate, and used by the churches themselves. I think Baptists would fall under the category of “Protestant”, in that they are Calvinists, but they say no. Some Baptists assert that there have always been Baptist-like non-Catholic Christians, and that they were persecuted and forced to live in the shadows for a thousand years — the “Trail of Blood”.

I have wondered how some Protestants are able to dismiss such things as apostolic succession (as they see it — the Anglicans don’t think that they lack apostolic succession), all seven sacraments, and so on, as only being of tangential importance. Either these things are part of the essence of Christianity, or they are not. I have wondered if they see it as “Christianity comes in different flavors for different times, situations, cultures, and circumstances”, or something like that. For some, it seems like the minimal requirements for “being a Christian” are that you believe in God, and that you acknowledge the man called Jesus as being important in some way.

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When I have dinner with my protestant friends, we say grace.
I pray for them and they pray for me :heart:

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