non-Catholic services in a Catholic church


Can somebody help me in finding a Church document/citation regarding this?

Is it ever permitted to hold non-Catholic prayer services in a consecrated Catholic church or chapel?



It depends what you mean by 'non-Catholic'. Christian? Non-Christian? Pagan?


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137. Catholic churches are consecrated or blessed buildings which have an important theological and liturgical significance for the Catholic community. They are therefore generally reserved for Catholic worship. However, if priests, ministers or communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church do not have a place or the liturgical objects necessary for celebrating worthily their religious ceremonies, the diocesan Bishop may allow them the use of a church or a Catholic building and also lend them what may be necessary for their services. Under similar circumstances, permission may be given to them for interment or for the celebration of services at Catholic cemeteries.


Consistent with the above, I’ve only ever seen it done with the express permission of the bishop and only towards groups whose beliefs are largely in line with our own. For instance, in my hometown there was a Russian Orthodox community that until relatively recently had no church of their own so used the chapel at the local Catholic hospital, again with the permission of the archdiocese.

That being said, when I lived in Brussels, Belgium, there was a Finnish Lutheran group that would use the Chapelle de la Resurrection in the EU district for their services. But then again, they’re a highly liturgical group and affirm the Real Presence in the Eucharist, so they would be reliably reverent.


The military base where I worshipped for many years had only one chapel which was used by both Catholic and non-Catholic. The Tabernacle was located in a side chapel and the Sanctuary Crucifix was on a rail so that it could be wound out of sight behind a curtain, allowing the bare Cross to move into its place for the non-Catholic service. I understand that this set-up was relatively common on US military Bases, as opposed to Canadian Bases where there were usually two chapels.

In my present parish, I've seen a few funerals that were transferred to the local Pentecostal Church (including one where the Bishop was the presider) because of the sheer number of mourners. I'm sure that if any of the local communities found themselves without a place to worship our doors would be open to them. We have hosted ecumenical services in our church.


Another aspect of this is that - I know when a church space is used for - say - a concert that might be attended by anyone, the Eucharist is removed from the Tabernacle.

I discovered this just a couple of years ago when watching a concert by “The Priests” at the Cathedral in Ireland. I noted that when they came out they made no motion toward where the alter or the tabernacle. My mom told me that the blessed Sacrament is removed in these circumstances.

Not sure how that fits in with the OP’s question…but thought it might be interesting.



We’ve done that on a few occasions.

There is one time, though, when the Tabernacle was removed from the Church for a Christmas Readings and Carol Service. I mean really, we’re reading the Bible and singing carols and because non-Catholics are present we remove the Blessed Sacrament? Aren’t we just saying that our fellow Christians are ignorant boors who couldn’t be trusted to behave? Yet I’ve never seen anyone suggest that we remove the Blessed Sacrament for the weddings of Catholics who haven’t set foot in Church in a decade or more and whose guests are half-way to being plastered and drinking in the parking lot.


One of our local parishes allowed the Jews to use their church for the High Holydays celebrations. While that parish is not known for their strict adherence to the rules, I think they had proper permission for this.

However, one Catholic lady wandered in unaware of what was going on. On her way out she was heard to mutter, "That was weird even for this parish." :D


we had a protestant funeral moved to our church, for the sake of the sheer number of mourners.


Of course in my previous post I meant that they had removed the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle and not that they had removed the Tabernacle from the church. :o


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