Protestant Services

I know Fr. Vincent said that it is heretical to go worship somewhere away from the Eucharist, but would it be allowable for a Catholic to go to a protestant service with the goal of inviting protestants to March for Life, providing that I go to mass prior to going? Or should I try to get a protestant from that “church” to do it?

I believe you are taking comments out of context.

It certainly is wrong to attend Protestant services **instead of **the Mass. It is also a serious matter to **regularly **attend Proestant services, except perhaps under the guidance of your priest in the case of a mixed marriage situation where the Catholic also attends Mass.

It is not wrong or “heretical” to attend a Protestant service for such a goal as you have in mind-- ecumenical activities and fostering cooperation between your Catholic parish and their congregation. Nor is it a problem to attend a wedding (provided it’s a valid one), funeral, etc. One must refrain from participating in those parts of a non-Catholic worship service that conflict with Catholic doctrine, such as any “communion” service they may have.

I suggest reading documents such as Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism, and encyclicals such as Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

For a long time, Catholics were not permitted to attend the worship services of any other faith (it was not heretical to do so - only disobeident). Catholics were not permitted to attend even significant events, such as the wedding of a family member in a non-Catholic church.

This rule is no longer in effect. But, as 1ke said, it generally should not be a regular practice.

My wife is a Lutheran and I often attend her services. But I never miss mass and I have never taken communion at her church.

Honestly I would phone their office and have someone from their church do it. I don’t think it’s… ‘honest’ to attend JUST to ask that they attend the March for Life.

Most SBC churches have a Sunday evening service and a Wednesday night Service that wouldn’t conflict with your mass.

Also, You might want to get ahold of a deacon or minister and ask permission so you don’t waste a trip. You could probably just give them the info and they’d just put it in the weekly newsletter or announce it from the pulpit.

This is a good answer.

:thumbsup: Perfectly answers the question…just wanted to re-post for those who consistently show up and don’t bother to read other responses. I can’t even think of anything to add to this.

David, just when are the times you refer to. I am older than 99% of posters on this forum. Never did we have such regulations re: weddings and funerals of non-Catholics. I believe it was on this forum that I stated the same some time in the past.

Definitly, you did not go to Protestant services instead of Mass, but for a special reason, go to early Mass because the Protestants tended to have late services. :slight_smile:

A quick browser search produced the following. The blog gets into more recent cannons and statements that at least partially reverses this discipline.

Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, 1928:

it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their [pan-Christian] assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ.

Well, I cannot say from personal experience - I am a (somewhat) recent convert.

But I have it on the authority of several sources, including Fathers Rumble and Carty, writing in 1938 (long before Vatican II, and long before my time) in their three-volume “Radio Replies,” which has been specifically recommended by Karl Keating (who recommended the series in his book, Catholicism & Fundamentalism and who is the founder of Catholic Answers - our host on this Forum) and by many others. These various recommendations are normally qualified with the fact that these priests wrote before Vatican II, and some rules (but not Doctrines) have changed (namely in 1983, with the revised Code of Canon Law).

In Radio Replies, Volume I, #1089, there is this Q&A:

1089. Is it sinful 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…

The two Fathers properly decline to rule if such an activity is “sinful” (because only God knows what is sinful in each particular instance), but they clearly state that it is in opposition to the “law of the Catholic Church” (in their time). The “law” (rules) of the Church may (and does) change - the belief (Doctrine) cannot change.

The Q&A continues at considerable length (can a Catholic be a best-man; won’t protestants hate Catholics because of this, etc), and is further expounded upon in the second and third volumes of this series.

I agree with Calgar. Catholics who have never attended a Protestant service don’t know what our Brethren In Christ are experiencing at their worship services. In the spirit of Ecumenism, we need to share openly with each other, what our worship services are about. Afterall, the Protestant roots are within Catholicism, and amazingly many Protestants don’t realize this. We are no different than the Northern and Southern Tribes of Israel … that split apart from the Davidic OT Kingdom, for no good reason.

We all know Christ desires all the Kingdom Children to wake up and realize we are no longer enemies, but in need of reunity under one Universal Church. Think of how amazed the Secularists and Skeptics in the world would be … if all Christians could grow to maturity, give up our petty differences, and reunify as ONE Church, in Christ.

I was raised S.B. … and Baptists love Catholics and our strong moral beliefs on marriage and Pro-life stance. My SB family members are now attending Mass with me whenever I’m home with them on holidays … and they love the Mass ! Yet, they still expect me to attend their Baptist Christmas services … which I do. It would be disrepectful not to.

Any Catholic, married to a Baptist, should respect the Protestant faith and attend worship with them, and also see to it that their spouse attends the Mass on weekly basis with them. Over time … the Baptist spouse will come to love the Mass and desire the Children to be raised as Catholic. What better way to live out true Ecumenism … as Vatican 2 has told us we need to be doing ?

Finally, think back on the early 1st Century Church as proof of Ecumenism and unity. The early Christians attended BOTH the Jewish Temple on Saturday, AND the Universal Church on the 1st Day Sunday. We should never disrespect our roots, but always work to discover the higher truths and elevate/promote Christ’s Universal ONE Church above all others.

Finally, the music and preaching is generally better in the Baptist churches … and we Catholics need to wake up and bring the Baptist ENERGY back into our Church. When they left us a few hundred years back … they borrowed our music and preaching talents !! Its high time they came back home and re-energize us !!! :smiley: Also, they love ‘water immersion’ baptism as the first choice … down by the river, in the free flowing waters {if available}, otherwise in a deep baptismal pool !! They can help us rediscover this Didache taught ‘first choice’ of baptism.

Thanks for your reply to my question. Yes, I agree with the quotes you posted, they are what I knew growing up. For the record, I made my First Holy Communion in 1939.
My maternal grandmother was a convert from the Methodist church, and I am sure my mothers family attended weddings and funerals of the Methodist relatives in early 1900’s. No one ever took part in the weddings and even in the 50’s and 60’s that was true. Since I had friends getting married in the 50’s, I did attend their weddings.

Just giving a view from my own life and experiences.


I agree with Calgar as well. Although you have very good intentions, ‘Cup o Joe’, you should respect their worship service and not simply use it as a platform to recruit activists. I can’t speak for protestants, but I know that I would be offended if someone attended mass/church service with absolutely no intention of worshiping God during that service.

There are ways to reach protestants outside of church service times.

I don’t think it’s offensive at all.

The RCC and the SBC are pretty much in perfect agreement on social issues. If you are fighting the abortion industry in your area there’s a pretty good chance the SBC is either doing the same thing or wanting to do it.

If you need manpower you can’t do much better than a bunch of southern baptists.

True, this is why 40 days for life is so great, people from all different churches get involved. It’s awesome!

I wouldn’t be the least bit offended if a protestant came to mass with the sole intention of discussing pro-life matters - so long as they didn’t expect to be given time during the mass and they were respectful (ie. standing up during the gospel).

So long as the OP is respectful of their service, and speaks at appropriate time as determined by the protestant pastor I can’t see why it would be a problem.

There is a big difference between worshiping with n-Cs and sharing a message of common social justice, and this is what this is about.

I don’t think this is what Fr. Serpa was talking about, but that he is saying that we cannot replace our Mass obligation with anything else. We do not miss Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation and substitute an n-C service.

You might insure that there is no conflict by asking the n-C pastor is you can speak at their Wednesday night service, which most of them have. Also, they have bulletins just like we do and an announcement can be included in them as well.

Coming at this matter from a completely different angle, I am a musician (in training). Part of being a music student in a university setting is getting paid to do what you’re learning to do in school (for me, it is to sing classical music) on a smaller scale. Many churches hire musicians, particularly singers, to be section leaders in choirs and sing solos. Sure, there are Catholic parishes that allow cantors to volunteer, but as someone who is paying tuition to learn how to use my voice on a professional level, I find it ridiculous that I would not be paid for my services. Music is a business and it’s often not treated as seriously by wider society, especially Catholic churches that hire one person to coordinate all the music (far from an easy task) and everyone else who is involved gets nothing.

So…I work for Congregationalist church, one of the many churches in the area that is not Catholic and hires singers to do what I described in the first paragraph. I get up to be at rehearsal from 8:30 to 9:50. Then I sing the service music and a couple times a semester, a solo for a weekly rate for a service that lasts about an hour. Apart from that which is given to me to sing, I don’t participate in the service at all, and the few times a year that they have communion, I certainly don’t take it. I never think of sitting through this service in a bright blue choir robe as having “gone to church” and I treat it as my job. Period. After I leave work, I attend a 12:30 mass at a Catholic church down the street. I believe this falls under extenuating circumstances for attending a protestant service (as if there need be extenuating circumstances, since according to some posters, there is no stricture against attending a protestant service so long as his Sunday obligation is met).

God bless,


The reason I was asking, and the reason we can’t normally go to a protestant service is that their worship service does not include heaven itself. the Mass Physically and Spiritually joins Heaven and the Trinity to the Church on earth. (see Hebrews) Protestant services doesn’t have that connection to heaven because it does not include Christ’s body blood soul and divinity.

Worship without the Body blood soul and divinity of Christ is to worship short of the Truth. It is not “our Mass” it is THE Mass, the perfect sacrifice that would be done every minute of every day throughout the world like Malachi prophecied. John talks about it in Revelations.

Thanks for the responses everyone. I will try to get people from those assemblies to spread the invitation for the March for Life.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit