Is it wrong to give dignitaries special seating at Mass?

I don’t mean for, say, the Red Mass where the Mass is specially for inspiration for politicians. Nor do I mean for weddings where they are seated in front because they might have a role in the wedding party.

But for other Masses, is it wrong to have dignitaries (such as politicians) seated in front?

Luke 20:45 would seem to imply that we should avoid that sort of thing:

"While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, [46] “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.”

I do have a follow up to this but I wanted to hear first responses before I go on to the next part of my question.

Does the seat matter?

Maybe they need it more. I don’t think we should judge. Just focus on the mass and treat them as brothers and sisters celebrating the mass with us.

The politicans are not pharisees in the sense of what pharisees are (teachers of the Levitical law). In the history of the Church, rulers have been given honorific places inside the churches during Liturgy. There have even been accounts where the emperor and empress (of Rome) were given Communion at the altar with the clergy (or immediately following the clergy).

Our teachers already have a seat of honor. Teachers meaning our Priests, Deacons, Bishops and the like.

What you are talking about are not teachers of the law. You are talking about honored guests. Much like the parents of the bride or the parents of the groom. They do not have a roll in the wedding. In fact, they don’t have to even show up. Bride, groom, witnesses and priest/deacon are needed. Everyone else is additional fluff.

I would argue that it does matter. I feel that it could send the wrong message. The Church should treat all of its people equally and without preference and no place is that more visible and fundamental than in the pews.

Does this mean that you would agree with me that secular dignitaries shouldn’t have special seating?


It would seem that Jesus did not mind giving others honored places if they did not seek them themselves.:shrug:

Scripture never says not to give a guest preferred seating, it says :

"While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, [46] “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.”

We had a funeral for a soldier who died in Afganistan at our parish. The governor of Oregon attended the Mass and a member of his staff came out the day before to see the layout of the Church and where the governor would be seated. There was other dignitaries also from the military in who were in attendance. Out of respect for the family and soldier these people came, and out of respect to them and their office, we gave them the seats up front on the right side. The deceased family sat up front on the left. Showing respect by offering the best seating to the family and also to the dignitaries makes sense, and is not condemned in the bible.

Put politicians where you can keep an eye on them; they’re slippery characters! :wink:

Besides that, I don’t see any reason to give them a seat of honour and it could create the wrong signals. There is a place for reserved seating at Mass - for Confirmandi, First Communicants etc. but not just for ‘random’ dignitaries who have no role in the Mass.

Although, it might look weird otherwise … if they were scattered throughout the church in all their medals, uniforms, chains & co. I guess we’d just all have to up our game on the Sunday best front so they blended in :shrug:

I think so.

If they have some role to play in the Mass, it makes sense to put them where they can get out of the pew easily. Say, the color guard who will have to present the flag to the widow at a funeral

If there was a security concern, that would also be a reason to have them sit in some special place.

If it’s going to be a televised Mass and it’s just some local low-grade politico, make 'em fight for a seat like everyone else. If they don’t make it to the camera shot, too bad. The Mass isn’t about them.


If it’s advantageous to the priest, the parish staff, a security force… or if there is some other liturgical reason why a dignitary should have a special seat then let the dignitary have a special seat.

If not, then the dignitary will have to get a seat like anyone else who wants a particular spot:. Come early.

A priest in Connecticut, who happens to be a family friend, shared a wonderful story about his dealings with a politician at Mass. As Yale was in his parish, and the newest Yale professor happened to be the recently-converted former PM Blair, this priest thought it prudent to invite him to attend Mass. After some dialogue, and a security sweep of the church, Tony attended mass. The priest asked him (prior to that Sunday) if he wanted to sit anywhere in particular for security reasons, but Tony decided to be seated near the back, as he did not want his presence to take away from the Mass. I’m not sure if there was a ‘reserved’ section or not in the back, but I find these measures to be reasonable.

However, there are some politicians I would love to give a very special placement for. I think Pelosi, Biden, and the rest should all have front row seats to the confessional screen!

I would say that it would depend on several factors. If the politician is a known supporter of abortion, then no because the bishops have made it clear that they are not to be given places of honor or platforms for speaking.

If it is an on-going practice, even for the pro-lifer, then I’d also say no. But if it is a special occasion, then it’s OK, again except for the pro-abortionist. Let him find his own place. [All this is MHO.]

The late President Cory Aquino also reportedly sat with the crowd in an inconspicuous seat when she’d go to Mass.

No, I don’t agree.

They are honored guests. :shrug:

Thinking about the guests at the table, remember that it is the guest who places himself in that honored position, and is then returned to a lower seat. However, I do not see any issue in selecting guests for honor. Remember that sitting up front during Mass in no way changes anyone’s salvation…

Not enough information. Is this for a special occasion? or is it giving them special seating all the time?

It all comes down to someone demanding a position of honor and someone simply receiving a position or seat of honor.

Remember that sitting up front during Mass in no way changes anyone’s salvation…

No, but it helps me pay attention. :stuck_out_tongue:

Jesus’ comments in Luke 20:45-46 were directed at the “Teachers of the law” in his own day, who were chief priests, scribes, Rabbis and Pharisees.

If you read the passages prior, and the challeng to Jesus’ authority at the beginning of the chapter, it is clear that his comments were a condemnation of the corrupt Jewish authorities who did not practice what they preached.


Get your facts straight…The Red Mass marks the beginning of the Legal Year. Traditionally, it is around the first two weeks of October. It is when the legal profession–attorneys and judges–pray that they may do their jobs correctly. It isn’t about nor has it ever been about “inspiration for politicians.”

Politicians (i.e. state legislators, mayors, county commissioners, etc.) attend as guests. They are not the subject of the Red Mass. Politicians hijack the event, but it isn’t about them.

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