Yeah, a local parish (technically MY parish, by geographical bounds, but I’m registered in another parish) in my area has a similar situation: the priest took in a dog that wandered in one day and trained it/took care of it. The dog sits quietly in a corner of the Narthax during mass (no problem there), but the dog enters the nave during the exit procession and the priest “hands” him a missal to carry out (at about half way out of the church). The tourists, since this parish largely caters to the tourist population that plagues the area year round, get a kick out of it, and the dog is very well behaved… and I’m still not sure about how I feel about it either.
I mean, is an animal NECESSARILY a sign of disrespect? Not really… in fact, in Germany and many other places in Europe, it’s more socially acceptable to bring a dog with you than to bring children (many restaurants will allow dog owners to seat their dogs under their tables, but will not allow children). So the best I can say here is that in my opinion it’s not a good idea at all, but it’s not necessarily immediately apparent that it’s a sign of rampant disrespect for God, either… most likely I’d peg it at the level of causing scandal because of the questions it leaves open.
Well come to think of it I saw a seeing eye dog in our church once during Mass, very well behaved, this is O.K. I wonder what are the rules/norms in this situation? The Mass is a celebration of one of the seven Sacraments, the Holy Eucharist.
Is the dogs just a pet for the priest? If so I could see how that may raise some concerns but perhaps the dog is a service dog, or being trained to be a service dog?
One of the families in my parish raised a service dog a while back. As the dog has to be capable of helping its owner in all situations the dog had to be conditoned to going to church as well. As there are many types of service and volunteer dogs it could prehaps be appropriate for the dog to be at church.
I obviously don’t know the whole situation, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps the dog is a therapy dog that visits nursing homes or hosiptals and has to be trained to sit quietly while the priest says mass in these locations?
Or perhaps the dog gives a good example for all the people, after all if a dog can be respectful during mass, maybe it inspires rowdy parishoners to do the same!
There would be a dog if a blind person were there, there could be an assistance dog that you wouldn’t recognize as a medical necessity because it looks like any other dog. The priest’s dog could be just such an animal.
We’ve had a mouse or two, or three, over the years. Dog seems less likely to scare the parishioners.