Ok For Catholics to go to Other Religious Services?

Is it ok to attend other religious services? Like I will definitely go to Mass, but I might want to visit a synagogue or mosque, or temple.

I regularly attend a non-Catholic Christian service. I am absolutely certain that the Lord is present at their gatherings. Of course the Real Presence(TM!) is not there, and I wish all of them could experience the joyful adoration of the Mass, but I’m still happy that they are able to worship the Lord in their own way. I openly wear a crucifix and everyone knows I am Catholic; of course I don’t participate in their version of “communion”, but I am respectful of their beliefs and joyful that they are able to commune with the Lord to whatever degree they are able; of course I pray that they will at some future date become Catholic (and I hope and pray that perhaps my example will help defray their fears of us horrible demonic Papists.)

I think this question is kind of one of those that asks another question. I mean, is it OK for Catholics to celebrate birthdays? Isn’t baptism more important? And what’s all this singing and giving presents to someone just because they were born? Shouldn’t you be praising God instead? Well, is the birthday celebration a substitute for proper respect for God, or is it all in good fun and everyone still understands that the ultimate thanks and celebration is to God? It depends on the attitude of the participant. If you attend alternative religious services in lieu of Mass, then there’s a problem. If you’re going to spend time worshipping the Lord with people who aren’t Catholic but we pray will be some day and you’re honest about your faith in Christ and the Church, then not only is there no problem, but we ought to do more of this! We talk about evangelization - what better way than to attend an alternate religious service openly, as a Catholic?

Go to a Protestant service, or a mosque, or heck, a Wiccan circle, and participate as your conscience allows, and be respectful and loving and supportive of your fellow children of God. And also be openly and unapologetically Catholic. Then - invite them to Mass!

I think you should question your motives.

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Do not attend a Wiccan circle.

A quick search of the AAA forum produced these links that may help inform your thinking on this.

*]Are non-denominational Bible studies ok for Catholics?
*]Is it okay to attend a Protestant Bible study?
*]Is it a sin to worship in other Christian churches?
One thing that also might help is to search for video of other religions services. In fact, a lot of what you see on TV is what you’d get in person.:shrug: If you’ve ever seen a Billy Graham crusade on TV, then you have seen what most n-C services are like.

Me, after about 35 years among them, (My Testimony) I feel no need or inclination to go there. I feel like my time is better spent in the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet, or in just reading my Bible (where I can snag a plenary indulgence for doing so!) so…all things considered…you see what I mean.

In all fairness the ecumenical dialogue is promoted and a very good idea. I tend to agree with YoungTradCath; I don’t quite understand.

to attend a religious service that is non-Catholic for mere observational purposes seems harmless, especially if you are not going instead of mass and again only to observe what they do, which may help in dialogue with non-Catholics of other faith groups

although you can really see what services from other faith groups are like with the use of the internet these days -

I agree with YoungTradCath, what would your reason be?

Now, I’m not a rigorist. I have done so for social reasons, such as weddings: I’ve been to Hindu weddings, including one in a temple on top of a hill (quite a journey!) where friends were involved. And of course, if you were an anthropologist or a scholar, it would be “participant observer” research. But going out of curiosity? I’m not so sure myself. :wink:

Some more good advice from Fr. Serpa…

In the first place a Catholic has no business attending Protestant church services even occasionally. To participate in a heretical worship service and especially a communion service can be sinful for a Catholic because such an act is an affirmation of what we believe to be untrue. To attend an ecumenical service or a wedding or baptism is allowed, but Catholics are not allowed to attend such churches for the main reason of worship. Now if there are no Catholic churches in the vicinity on a Sunday, Catholics are allowed to participate in the Liturgy of Churches whose clergy are validly ordained such as the Eastern Orthodox Churches—including the reception of the Eucharist. Although we consider them to be in schism (not in union with the Pope) with the Catholic Church, such Churches are not heretical and share our basic beliefs.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

I agree with Fr. We have the One True Faith. Protestantism is a heresy. Outside of the reasons provided by Fr., going to other services is mocking Catholic worship by replacing it with false one. If we don’t worship the One True God, we are worshipping demons.

It’s a pretty big leap between having less than the fullness of truth to worshipping demons.

I apologize for in advance for that. :wink:

A Wiccan circle!!! Definitely not. Witchcraft is not a benign, well-meaning faith. Witchcraft is aligned with satan, whether those practising realise it or not. You must not go to such things.

You could attend a service in a Protestant church, a Synagogue, or a Mosque, but it would very much depend on your motivation for doing so.

If you are attending because you wish to give credence to their belief systems, or because you believe that there is some validity in their belief system, then no, you should not go.

On the other hand, if you are attending a Protestant service for ecumenical reasons you can go. Or if you are attending something like a Holocaust Memorial service in a synagogue and you are attending out of a sense of support for the Jewish community, or a sense of solidarity with your fellow man uniting against such acts, then yes that would be OK. Or if you are attending a wedding or funeral etc. of a Protestant, Jewish or Muslim friend then there is no problem going. I guess, you could also go out curiosity, or to educate yourself on what goes on at Protestant, Jewish or Islamic services. You would naturally behave respectfully, but you would be there as a friend and observer.

But if you are going because of some personal spiritual reason, or you think there is something valid that you would benefit spiritually from going, then most definitely you should not go.

… the Catholic are on to us!

Quick! Hide the demon!

I think actually attending should be left up to the conscience of the individual Catholic. It would be wrong to participate in a ceremony which imitates the Eucharist by taking communion.

Spoilsport, benjohnson, I wanted to come along to look for the demon, now you’re hiding it!

I occasionally attend Anglican services. My wife is Anglican (as was my late father, though I was brought up Catholic as my parents were married with a dispensation in the Catholic Church).

I do it to pray with her, not to “worship”, and she attends Mass with me as well. My conditions for doing so:

-It is not in lieu of Mass; I will fulfill my obligation in a Catholic church;
-I do not make acts of worship there (genuflecting, kneeling, etc.);
-I obviously do not go up for communion;
-I do pray with them, the prayers we hold in common, such as the Creed and the Our Father, or the intercessions.

I do believe that they are gathering in His name; and He did say He would be there when two or three gather in His name. While Anglicanism may be heretical, bear in mind that most people there are NOT guilty of the sin of separation. That sin was done 500+ years ago, and most are simply worshipping the way they were brought up:

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers … All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”
21 Certain things are required in order to respond adequately to this call:


  • prayer in common, because “change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name 'spiritual ecumenism;”'282

(Catechism of the Catholic Church).

That said I’m certainly curious enough to go to a synagogue; not because I have any plan to join but bear in mind that Jesus was Jewish, that they are our “elder brothers”, and that much of the Catholic liturgy has its roots in Judaism.

Though Islam interests me from a purely intellectual point of view, going to mosque… less so because I don’t understand Arabic.

Keep in mind also that Judaism and Islam worship the same God we do, even though their understanding of Him differs or is incomplete.

It all boils down to our reasons for attending.

That is not what our Church teaches though. Conscience needs to be informed by the teachings of the Church and it is each individual Catholic’s duty to inform himself of the teachings of the Church. We cannot simply say that “It is up to the conscience of the individual” because if the conscience of the individual is contrary to the teachings of the Church, then either the individual did not take the care and effort to inform himself of Church teaching on the issue (which would mean his conscience was not an informed conscience) or he is choosing to ignore Church teaching.

Is there something in the catechism that says Catholics shouldn’t attend other church services?

My practical advice (keep in mind I’m Lutheran)

  1. Only go once you fully understand your own faith. If you can see the differences and understand the reason for the difference, you won’t be libel to get caught up in the emotion and do something you later regret. You will also have a renewed appreciation for your own faith, and can bring back virtues you found.

  2. Have good reason to go. I went to Catholic Mass before the pro-life march here with the group of good Catholic who allowed me on their bus, and I think that was appropriate as I know we have a lot in common. I won’t set foot in a prosperity-gospel church as it would only be for curiosity sake and that’s not reason enough.

  3. If you do go - be sincere. Only reserve doing the things would bring scandal (like receiving communion) - but fully participate in the common things like prayer, singing, sharing the peace and hearing the word proclaimed.

  4. Prepare to be have the Holy Spirit give you comfort. When you have to reserve your participation in the religious service and you do it without calling attention to yourself, I find that the Holy Spirit does give you comfort in such difficult situations.

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