Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem at Mass?

Let me start off by saying that I’m the committee chair for my son’s scout troop (obviously I’m not going to rail against the Boy Scouts), I’m also a nephew/godson of a 9/11 victim, and an Army vet (before anyone questions my patriotism).
Having said that, I was extremely uncomfortable during mass tonight. Right after the entrance song at the beginning of mass (regular “Sunday” mass, but held immediately before a Boy Scout “Blue & Gold Banquet”) Father had us say the pledge of allegiance and sing the national anthem. Then, between the homily and the Procession of Faith, there was an award ceremony for the scouts since they had earned religious boy scout awards.

Does anyone know of anyway this can be considered allowed by the GIRM?

I extremely doubt that this is a permissable action. The Mass is not about us and our country, it’s about God and Heaven. Even if there is no documentation on this type of situation common sense should be exercised.

I am not sure about the awards being presented after the homily.

The pledge and anthem after the entrance hymn are probably within the rules for Mass as long as they were before the Introductory rites beginning with the Sign of the Cross. Odd but not forbidden.

I would be uncomfortable with this too… especially with the awards ceremony, since this should really be done outside of the Mass. The Mass should be all about God, imo…

No, this should not have been done. While honoring one’s country can be an honorable thing to do, it should not be done in the Mass. It is not ours to toy with and to use as we see fit.

[quote=Sacrosanctum Concilium]22.3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority.

[quote=Redemptionis Sacramentum]59. The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy.


I think the awards ceremony in Mass is permitted, in the USA.

From the Book of Blessings, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1875-8, page 739. “Chapter 68 ORDER FOR THE BLESSING OF THOSE RECEIVING ECCLESIASTICAL HONORS”. It then has “USA” in the margin, indicating that this is a chapter in the USA edition of this liturgical book, that is not in the Latin original. The introduction to this ceremony includes:
“1941 This order is intended for use on occasions when ecclesiastical honors are conferred. It is appropriate for use by a bishop when priests have been named as members of the papal household (…), and when laity have been granted papal honors.
The blessing may also be used for the conferral of diocesan or parish honors.”

So I think the parish priest could reasonably say: “Those to be awarded these religion scout awards I will regard as worthy of a parish honor, and so conduct this ceremony.” (Of course, another parish priest may be of the opinion that it is not worthy of a parish honor, and so reasonably refuse to conduct the ceremony.)

This ceremony can be part of a Mass: “1944 If the blessing is conferred during Mass, the Mass of the day is celebrated. The blessing is given following the homily, …”

Regarding the Entrance Hymn, from the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from :

The Entrance
47. After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.
48. The singing at this time is done either alternately by the choir and the people or in a similar way by the cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.”

I do not know if the National Anthem has been approved as a “suitable liturgical song”. Even if it were, having two entrance hymns would be incorrect.

Corki wrote in #3: “The pledge and anthem after the entrance hymn are probably within the rules for Mass as long as they were before the Introductory rites beginning with the Sign of the Cross.” I disagree with this. The Mass does not begin with the Sign of the Cross. It begins with the entrance procession, which may have an entrance hymn. So the GIRM has things like:
“50. When the Entrance chant is concluded, the priest stands at the chair and, together with the whole gathering, makes the Sign of the Cross. Then he signifies the presence of the Lord to the community gathered there by means of the Greeting. By this Greeting and the people’s response, the mystery of the Church gathered together is made manifest.
After the greeting of the people, the priest, the deacon, or a lay minister may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day.”

So there is no scope for putting in an “Oath of Allegiance” between the Entrance chant and the Sign of the Cross.

In the introduction “the priest, the deacon, or a lay minister” could say something like “The oath of allegiance is …”. But I would also be uncomfortable with everyone reciting this. It would then stop being a presentation of information and be like part of the Mass.

Thanks. The local Catholic school does the Pledge of Allegiance at Mass but after the final recessional hymn. I think that’s clearly outside of the confines of the Mass.

As for the beginning of Mass, I remember the argument about Liturgical dance being used as part of the entrance processional. The reasoning was that it was ok since it was technically before Mass started. Is this not true (and I really hope it is not true :D)?

Let me ask this: Is there an American flag in or beside your sanctuary? That is also very dubious, though it was once universal in the US and may still be common. The custom of integrating patriotic gestures with worship was a brainchild of Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York in the middle of the 20th century. His motivation was to end doubts about the patriotism of Catholics, something that was not fully achieved until the election of John F. Kennedy as president.

Other denominations also honor scouts during services, especially with the God and Country award. The Catholic Church in the U.S. frequently and apparently licitly allows secular ceremonies, including for instance high school graduations, to take place between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, so there is no particular pastoral reason to exclude honoring scouts unless there is a black-letter rule about it. Any music preceding the Sign of the Cross can these days be interpreted as extra-liturgical, so you might consider yourself lucky that singing the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance are the only eye-rollers you had to put up with. At least you didn’t have to take the Legion of Decency Oath.

A scouting award is not an “ecclesiastical honor”, it is a secular award. An ecclesiastical honor is when a priest is named a monsignor or something like that, not a scouting award.

You parish was obviously celebrating Scout Sunday, recongizing the work of the scouts.
Since the pledge and song was done before the opening prayer, it was not adding anything to the liturgy of the mass.
Rocongizing the scouts for their had work to earn the relious awards should also not be a reason for concern. Theses awards are a recongition of their faithfullness.

The Catholic awards given focus on sacraments and faith. They are given by the Catholic Committee on Scouting. This is a Catholic organization made up of scouters and is recongized and supported by the Diocese. These are religious recongitions given to scouts.

However, this could have been done at the appropriate time, after the Prayer After Communion. Since this was not part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it would have been better suited during this time.

I think this is a great question. I know the Mass is not about lawyers, yet we have an annual Red Mass. It is not about the service police provide, yet they too are honored at an annual Blue Mass. It sounds like the letter of the GIRM was followed.

However, in the Red Mass, nothing “extra” occurs. Awards are not given. The same holds true for the White Mass for healthcare professionals. Any special presentations are made after the Mass at the dinner for either the lawyers or the doctors.

At our Blue Mass, we all get some recognition during the Mass, a chance for applause and such for police. I guess at a Red Mass, they may be afraid of the reaction. :smiley: ( another bad lawyer joke)

When I was child in the traditional times in the feasts of Hungarian Saints and on the feast of Assumption (considered as celebration of Mary, Patrona Hungariae) we always sung the Hungarian National Hymn as concluding hymn.

One must distinguish between Mass and closing hymns which are not strictly part of Mass. The Polish national anthem (or another national song) is played often as the hymn after Polish Masses, or after the “Go, the Mass is ended” part of the Mass.

It is good to hear that other countries besides the US have this practice. Surely the national anthems of many countries express ideals and aspirations that are consistent with the teachings of Catholic Christianity. I still question, however, the appropriateness of making people feel pressure, however indirect, to participate in a patriotic exercise at the same time they are fulfilling an obligation of devotion to God. The questions of ethics, morality, and conscience surrounding the two exercises do not always coincide.

National flags, national anthems and national pledges do not belong at Mass.
Mass is a prayer to The Holy Creator of ALL humans, regardless of on what piece of His created Earth they reside.
I had to deal with this at another parish I once attended.
Notice I said “once” attended.

Remember this was a special occasion, Scout Sunday, Since Scouting is 100 years old in the United States, this is a long tradition of scouts coming to mass showing both faith and patriotism. WE are called to be loving, giving and tolerant, this is one of those times in the church we can should do so.

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