MYTH BUSTING: attending other churches

Unless you told him, the priest would have no way of knowing that you were not Catholic. He likely would not have given you Communion had he known, but may have offered you a blessing instead.

Communion is very strictly reserved for Catholics, with Orthodox Christians being a notable exception under certain conditions.

Would beer be acceptable then?

:smiley: We’re doing this in testimony to our personal Savior, not in testimony to our favorite football club (soccer club to los norteamericanos).

As far as I know it is still a sin to attend a worship service of any kind in a place not in Communion with us. This gives a false notion of acceptance, etc. and is to be discouraged. You can go there for other reasons at other times, i.e. for a Craft Fair or a meeting for Girls Scouts, but you cannot attend their Services. That is unless you believe they have a valid way of worshiping. In that case go, but do not receive Communion again when you return to your Parish Church.


Here is another answer to this question from a place called Radio Replies which is a reliable Catholic site for solid answers. I bolded some portions to help you focus.

1089. Is it a sin for a Catholic to attend weddings in Protestant churches?

The law of the Catholic Church** forbids participation in a religious service that is not Catholic because it is an implied repudiation of the faith **which a Catholic professes to be the only true faith. It is good for non-Catholics to realize this so that, knowing that Catholics must refuse, they will not ask them to assist at the religious ceremony itself and then be offended as if refusal were due to lack of friendship.

1091. Why is the Catholic Church so severe in her lata in this matter?

For very good reasons. Firstly, loyalty to Christ forbids our sanctioning in any way a false form of religion, and Protestantism is a corruption of Christ’s religion. If one may attend any religious services, irrespective of creed, then a Christian could assist at pagan rites. There must be a limit somewhere, and the Catholic Church says that those limits exclude any false form of religion, even though it be an adulterated form of Christianity. The presence of a Catholic at Protestant services is a silent approval of the error that one religion is as good as another. St. Paul says, “A man that is a heretic avoid.” Tit. III., 10. St. John says, “If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house, nor say to him: ‘God speed you.’” 2 Jn. V., 10. The law of the Church, too, protects the faith of Catholics. If they attend Protestant services, there is always a danger that they will participate actively in a shamefaced way, and also a danger of their drifting into indifferentism and weakening in their own faith. Their presence, also,** can be a cause of scandal to other Catholics **]who may begin to think that it is right for them also to attend at non-Catholic Churches. Nor is such attendance a kindness to Protestants. The abstention of Catholics from their services is a lesson of the utmost importance to them. Our attendance would sanction to a certain extent their idea that their religion also is as good as our own. But our absence from their Churches gives them food for thought. An Anglican might say, “Well, I have seen Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and people of many other religions at our services; but I have never yet seen a Catholic associated with us.” And the fact that the vast Catholic Church denies their claims has led many a man from the chaos of the different Protestant Churches to the true religion.


. Nor is such attendance a kindness to Protestants. The abstention of Catholics from their services is a lesson of the utmost importance to them. Our attendance would sanction to a certain extent their idea that their religion also is as good as our own. But our absence from their Churches gives them food for thought. An Anglican might say, “Well, I have seen Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and people of many other religions at our services; but I have never yet seen a Catholic associated with us.” And the fact that the vast Catholic Church denies their claims has led many a man from the chaos of the different Protestant Churches to the true religion.


Interesting, because when I asked our priest about attending a baptism in a Presbyterian church he said it was o.k. to go. And when my mother-in-law spoke to her priest about attending a lesbian wedding, he said it was o.k. to go. As a matter of fact, I’ve never met a priest who forbade Catholics from attending services at other churches. As a matter of fact, a lot of priests participate in ecumenical services with other faiths. Haven’t popes participated in inter-denominational prayer services?

Hello On the Hill.

The site I quoted is a very credible site. If in reading this you find out that it was a sin to go to those places for their services, then by all means, go to Confession and unburden your soul. I cannot even begin to imagine any Priest telling your mother-in-law that it is okay to attend a lesbian wedding.

The Church has always forbid attendance at the worship services of other religions. Think way back to the Church’s founding and the early centuries. There were Martyrs who refusing to offer incense at the Pagan’s altars who died for the this “crime.” They refused. We were forbidden then to do so, and we are forbidden now to do so. Ecumenism isn’t permission for you to go to the Baptist Church on Sunday. If you’ve never met a Priest who forbade going to Protestant places for services, then you’ve never met a faithful Priest. Only the seriously ignorant or those in total dissent would give such advice.

As for Popes actually praying with others of various religions for whatever reason, that is the Pope. You aren’t the Pope, nor is your Parish Priest. He is genuinely reaching out to others to invite them into dialog so as to convert them. Everyone knows this, especially those who meet with him. That is why some refuse to meet with him or make the same gesture towards him regarding their brand of religion. Oh, and I shouldn’t leave this out - the incident of the kissing of the Koran by St. John Paul II. Should you do the same? And did that make the Koran an acceptable book for Catholics? Please. Don’t even go there.


Lesbian wedding: Involved a family member, and mother-in-law was told she should show compassion and keep the family together.

As for non-Catholic services: attending isn’t the same as participating, is it? Also, the world isn’t the same as it was when pagans martyred Christians. I’ve attended Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, non-denominational, and Jewish services. (obviously, never as a substitute for Mass).

As for the rest, I’m not the pope? :confused: I thought I was. :o Sorry.

The pope is a bishop, the first among equals. At the heart, the pope is a priest. I’m not sure the pope has any special privileges that allow him to pray with other faiths. Are you saying the pope is allowed to, but others aren’t?

Why would I go there with the Koran? That’s just a silly leap down a slippery slope that doesn’t exist.

My mother is Baptist, my dad Catholic. We were raised Catholic. As children, we did attend my mother’s church from time to time as well as Sunday school (after mass of course). And we didn’t grow horns on our heads, no one evangelized us and my mother explained that we (children) are Catholic…with that said, she didn’t lock us in a fish bowl. One day as adults we will be socializing among many faiths…and to learn (not assume) what other faiths believe…she exposed us to hers.

Thank you glendab.

This is incorrect, as has been explained several times in this very thread.

The website you link to directly contradicts several clear Catholic guidelines and is thus highly suspect. The website argue that Catholic law forbids even attendance of a Catholic wedding, under the incorrect assumption that the church forbids attendance of non-Catholic “worship”, which is simply not true.

I have highlighted the most blatant contradiction, with a direct quote that is in conflict with the Catholic “DIRECTORY FOR THE APPLICATION OF
”, 1993, Vatican City. I highly recommend all involved review this document.

“Radio Replies” asserts that Catholics may not be official witnesses at a non-Catholic wedding:

[quote=Radio Replies]1090. May a Catholic act as best man or bridesmaid at a non-Catholic wedding?

A Catholic may not act as an official witness. A wedding in a church is not a merely social event; it is also a religious ceremony. Though non-Catholics may not see it, the Catholic position is alone logical. Protestants should choose witnesses of their own faith and spare Catholics the pain of having to refuse.

This flatly contradicts the “DIRECTORY FOR THE APPLICATION OF

]136. Members of other Churches or ecclesial Communities may be witnesses at the celebration of marriage in a Catholic church. Catholics may also be witnesses at marriages which are celebrated in other Churches or ecclesial Communities.

(emphasis added)


There is simply no absolute prohibition on merely attending Protestant services, and it is unfortunate that this website you found uses dubious logic to contradict the norms taught by the Catholic Church.

It is not a sin to attend Protestant services.

However, you cannot take communion at Protestant services, and you still need to go to Mass every week.

So if you want to go to church twice in one week, good for you.

The vague, implied limits in this thread to limit attendance to “special occasions” are wrong.

Hello RunningDude.

The fact that Catholics may be witnesses in other places for marriages, is partly true. the emphasis is on MAY. There is a procedure by which they must obtain permission from the Local Ordinary or his juridical equivalent. I repeat, permission must be obtained. It cannot be assumed and if assumed or given improperly by the wrong person, two things occur - grave scandal is given and a falsification of legitimate authority, also grave matter.


P.S. Anyone who thinks they are acting “ecumenically” on their own is not acting with the true impetus of the Church.

P.S.S. RunningDude, Radio Replies is a very Catholic place. if you think they aren’t, that is your opinion, but certainly NOT the opinion of the Church.


Glendab, how do you explain the contradiction pointed out it post 32?
Radio Replies says one thing, the official Catholic Church document says another, I think you’ll find.

Hello Paperwhite.

I already did. RuningDude’s quotation isn’t the final word on the subject and the documents cited are all about Ecumenism. It isn’t Ecumenism to go to Services at Protestant places on Sunday and anyone who thinks they are doing so is wrong.
As fro the passage cited, those who authored the document know that a Catholic must be given permission to attend a Protestant wedding. They wouldn’t list it there. Marriages in which a Catholic is invited to be a witness, say as a Birdesmaid MAY happen, but **PERMISSION MUST BE OBTAINED **by the Catholic party from a legitimately authorized person. You cannot just go. If you want documentation, I can provide it, but it will take too much typing and I have to leave for church soon. If you want, I’ll do it later on today. Ask me.

We aren’t allowed to attend the religious services of other denominations. Those who have said there is no sin in it are incorrect and it is wrong to tell others this is so. It never was okay to go to other places to worship, Think of the Jews in the Old Testament and what the Prophets sent by God said about their worship of other gods in the high places and the use of sacred poles by Jews led to. God punished Israel eventually when He got sick of their false worship and their spiritually adulterous behaviors. This is the same stuff. It is a big sin to go to Protestant places on Sundays for those who are Catholic. You cannot just go because someone’s feelings will be hurt if you don’t.


My siblings and I attended my mothers church in the 60’s. … there was no need to get “permission”. As a matter of fact. …my mother called the rectory and asked Friday O’Connor. He told her as long as we the kids went to mass…he ddidn’t have a problem with it. I have attended many Protestant weddings…and never asked permission. You seem to be misinformed. I would like to know how you would “police” :rolleyes:something like that? Really now…

Hello Everyone. Here is an answer about the exact same question under slightly different conditions by Michelle Arnold found at EWTN:
**Attending Protestant church services
Question from Kathleen on 07-11-2014:
Can a Catholic attend a regular Sunday service at a non-Catholic church? I know it’s not as a substitute for a Catholic Mass, but I want to go to a service at a non-Catholic church.
Answer by Catholic Answers on 07-17-2014:
Catholics should not be attending Protestant services unless they have serious reason to do so. Mere curiosity or a liking for the people at the church is not sufficient reason. Even when serious reason exists, a Catholic should not make a habit of attending non-Catholic services, but should only do so as an occasional and non-participating guest (at most).

Michelle Arnold ** (boldness and Italics are mine)

RunningDude, are Michelle’s words and EWTN credible enough for you? I hope so.


Hello again Everybody. As for some Priests condoning the attendance of Catholics at Protestant places on Sundays, this next Q & A from EWTN may shed some light on the issue:

Attendance at Protestant Services
Question from Ivan on 11-03-2005:
Fr. Levis:
Recently, there’s been a dispute in our diocese regarding attendance by Catholics at Protestant services. The bishop’s executive assistant wrote an opinion piece in the diocesan newspaper stating, basically, that it was not proper for Catholics to attend and participate in Protestant services.* Many in the diocese, including some clergy, disagree. In fact, a deacon and a parish priest were quoted in the local secular newspaper as “encouraging” (their word) parish members to attend Protestant services.*
I maintain that attendance and participation at Protestant services places a Catholic in the occasion of sin. All Protestants, by definition, deny one or more of the Church’s definitve teachings and reject the primacy of the bishop of Rome; so a Catholic might be tempted to renounce the Faith. Furthermore, it seems to me that when clergy encourage the faithful the to attend outside the Church, they bring scandal to the faithful because there is an implication that non-Catholic churches are on equal footing with the One True Church.

My questions to you: What is the definitive Church teaching on this issue and what spiritual benefit might a Catholic obtain by attending a Protestant service?

Answer by Fr. Robert J. Levis on 11-04-2005:
The most up-to-date teaching of the Church on this point is found in the documents of Vatican 2 and these are included mostly in those documents which treat of ecumenism. Surely it is necessary at times for Catholics to attend ecumenical services sometimes in Protestant churches since the obvious reason is the coming together in worship of Christ. So many of these documents limit themselves to those representing the bishop in ecumenical affairs. Surely the presence of Catholics in a funeral Protestant service is obvious and taken for granted.** I agree that Catholics who attend Protestant services are in a kind of danger of religious indifference and ultimately of apostasy.**

Fr. Bob Levis (boldness and Italics mine)

Now if there was a disagreement between The Assistant to the Bishop in one Diocese and one Priest and a Deacon on this issue, doesn’t that show how it is still possible for some here to say it is okay and not a sin and others to say it is? Not everyone who is Catholic is a faithful Catholic.

I’m beginning to wonder why some would even consider going to a Protestant church’s services on Sunday unless they are interested. The Church authors and sanctions genuine ecumenical efforts and there are collaborative efforts made all the time. In none of these efforts is there ever any insinuation that Protestant services are legitimate or worthy of praise, or worse, an acceptable substitute for Catholic Mass on Sunday. So, why all the defense of them by some here?


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