Can plays be performed in church?

The play Late Nite Catechism is being shown at our church. I mean literally on the ALTAR with the audience sitting in the pews. What if the Blessed Sacrament is still there on the altar? I don’t feel right watching LNC in front of our Lord. Help? Is this okay?

While I am unaware of a particular liturgical document that deals with plays, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has released a document titled Concerts in Churches that considers the appropriateness of using churches for non-liturgical purposes. Among the norms suggested were:

[list]That admission to the concert be open and without charge;[/list]

[list]That the Blessed Sacrament be removed from the nave of the church;[/list]

[list]That both the performers and the audience observe a dress code;[/list]

[list]That performers stay outside of the sanctuary, in order to ensure proper reverence for the altar, priest’s chair (or cathedra) and the lectern (source).[/list]

All of this presumes that the material presented is fitting for presentation within a church. There is some question about whether Late Nite Catechism is suitable for such church presentations. William Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights said of the play on September 18, 1998:

Late Nite Catechism ridicules the pre-Vatican II church in a way that its fans would label outrageous had the script targeted “progressive” nuns (source; scroll to press release for 9/18/98).

I suggest talking with the pastor to assure yourself that the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the church during shows such as this. If the parish has a social center, perhaps you could suggest that location as an alternative venue for future productions.

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