Question Re: Non-Catholic Christian Church Services

I have a question for my Catholic brothers and sisters in the faith, which I desperately need advice on. I believe in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, and also the fullness of truth which comes to us from the Catholic faith.

That being said, I have a friend of mine who belongs to a Protestant church. She has invited me to go with her to her church for a number of weeks now. At first, I did not see anything wrong in doing so, as I looked at it as fellowshiping with our “seperated brethren”. However, the other day I was reading an important verse from Sacred Scripture which placed a burden on my heart regarding this situation. Let me list the verse below:

2 Thessalonians 3:6 We instruct you, brothers, in the name of (our) Lord Jesus Christ,**to shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us. **

Protestants don’t hold to Sacred Tradition (the tradition spoken about in the above verse which is used by the Catholic Church to show why we follow Sacred Tradition, along with Sacred Scripture, which is infallably interpreted by the Magesterium of the Catholic Church). They believe in Sola Scriptura, Bible Alone, as I’m sure everyone here already is aware of.

My question is, given this verse, and others like it, is it alright, according to Catholic teaching, to attend a worship service at a Protestant church? I attend Mass everyday, and I always fulfill my Sunday obligation. Also, I realize that these Protestant “services” are not the Mass, nor are they on the same level as the Mass with regards to worship, our Sunday obligation etc.

I know that the Catholic Church views the Eastern Orthodox Church as a part of the Catholic Church. And I’m aware that there are efforts being made (if they are not already completed, forgive me but I am not sure where the situation stands at the present time) to allow Catholics to attend Mass at an Eastern Orthodox Church as well as to allow Eastern Orthodox Christians to attend a Catholic Mass, and it counting as fulfilling the Sunday obligation. However, I know this is different with regards to Protestant churches, as I’ve already stated above. I guess what I’m basically trying to find out is, is it alright to continue going to service with my friend at her church, provided I continue to view it as I do now?

Also, would it be alright to attend a synogogue or a service at a mosque? Would it be alright to attend a buddhist “gathering” (I’m unsure what they call their services, my apoligies)? I know that a devil-worshiping gathering would be wrong, but where exactly is the line drawn with regards to other religions, and other non-Catholic Christian communities?

Thank you, in advance, for your help and responses.

May God bless you and Mary keep you in her prayers always.


Here is a simillar question asked to Fr. Vincent Serpa

**Can I attend a Protestant Bible Study? **

I think that it is a dangerous premise to attend non-Catholic services on a regular basis particularly for those Catholics who do not know the (CCC),many have been drawn away from the church by evangelizing Bible-believing Protestants who are very adept at quoting their brand of scripture(Sola Scriptura&Sola Fides) and these have had considerable success unfortunately, even those Catholics who are up to speed on their Catechism find it a real challenge at times,because these people are so relentless in their quest to convert the poor unbiblical Catholics.
To go to regular Protestant services you would be isolated and vulnerable and therefore putting yourself at considerable risk,I suggest that as you have placated the wish of your friend by attending such services you should invite her to attend Mass with you and see what reaction you get,if she agrees then well and good,if not then you can be sure that underneath her friendly exterior lies an ulterior motive.
Never forget that Bible believing Protestants are convinced that we Catholics need to be Saved and many like your friend actually believe that they are doing the right thing by you.

But if I tarry long, that thou may know how thou ought to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.(1.Timothy3:15)


Yinandyang, I do agree with another poster that caution should definitely be used before attending the worship services of other faiths. The reason being the risk of having your Catholic Faith undermined by proselytizing in Protestant communities. There is less risk as to non-Christian faiths because of the cultural gap. However if you are secure in the Catholic Faith and possess the discipline should questions concerning the Catholic Faith arise afterwards to speak with a spiritual advisor then attending the Protestant worship service could provide an opportunity for evangelizing your friend. It would also be an opportunity to ask her to come to Mass with you. By attending with her it would show that you respect her and her faith even though deficient. It would certainly open up new avenues for dialog.

Great advise already.
I would only go to other services at this point for two reasons.

  1. To learn how they worship/fellowship so that I could better converse with my friend.
  2. As part of an exchange program where I’ll attend with my friend if she agrees to come to mass with me.

These things help to open conversation.

however, if it feels as though she is trying to get you to go to “convert” you then I would say don’t go.


Another thing to remember, It seems that MANY non- Catholics like to point out that THEIR Bible is the one only TRUE word of God- Point out that the Bible Came from the Catholic Church and it was Luther and company that handle the slashing and cutting.
Thay hay being confused with the facts!
Just another point


My answer why I can not be a protestant is mentioned here in this web.

Yes protestants first invite to church thats their trick and later they started quoting scripture and condemning catholic church practices and eventually the ignorant catholics who do not know scriptures wont defend catholic church with scriptures so the protestant church guys will get a chance to convert catholics! I suggest you even if u visit be strong in your catholic faith and be educated strongly in scriptures to proove ur protestant faith!

I am catholic and I always defend catholic church eventhough married to Baptist!

I write articles to prove catholic faith through scriptures!

God bless you!

I have attended congregational services with my wife and when I have left I’m still awaiting the service to begin.
There is definitely something missing. The singing is wonderful - but there it ends.

I see nothing wrong with being ecumenical and I know that I have enough Faith to realize that I’m not about to stop being Roman Catholic which I view as the one true church. If your faith is not strong - I would not suggest attending a protestant church.

I think as long as it is clear that you DO NOT support this religion, then you are still “shunning” those who don’t practice according to the teachings given by the Apostles. As long as you don’t go and act as if you support your friend’s decision to be a non-Catholic Christian.

Make a deal with your friend…tell them that you will go to their service if they come to Mass with you :wink:

Guess you didn’t proof read this one though…you robably mean, “…to prove ur Catholic faith!”:D:thumbsup:


Few Catholics are solid enough in their faith (and many are in parishes that neglect catechesis) to attend, safely, non-Catholic assemblies of the Protestants and of the sectaries. It is especially dangerous to continue “visiting”, time after time, such non-Catholic local assemblies, the more so if one is not firmly grounded in the Catholic faith.

As for the Eastern Orthodox, whose liturgies are so spectacularly beautiful and deeply spiritual, one must remember Eastern Catholic parishes :stuck_out_tongue: in communion with Rome, who offer the same glorious liturgy, music, and spirituality, without being hostile to the Vatican.

At any rate, an occasional visit, as an act of good will, in a way that is not rebellious against the Church’s guidance in so relating to non-Catholics, is one thing. Persistence in fellowshipping with sectaries and Protestants is quite another! If the spiritual and theological nourishment is poor at one’s own parish, it is better to seek out another Catholic parish (Roman or Eastern) than to resort to the Protestants and the sects.

Pax, Jerry Parker

Apostolic Canon LXIV

If any clergyman or layman shall enter into a synagogue of Jews or heretics to pray, let the former be deposed and let the latter be excommunicated.

Do not go. Although I doubt your friend has this intention invariably someone will attempt to proselytize you because that’s what Protestants do.

In Christ

That sounds like it is from the old Canon law. It would be abrogated by the new Code of Canon Law.

Yinandyang -

My husband & I have attended Protestant services, mostly funerals & weddings. We never fail to notice what is lacking in these services - the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As long as you don’t replace Mass with the Protestant service, and if you are strong in your faith, I don’t see a problem with it. We do joke with our Protestant friends that they have to come to Mass! Many have. One (& possibly his wife) is joining the Catholic Church. :angel1:

Then please show me where the Catholic Church has decided to abrogate this particular Canon which is over 1500 years old?

Guys-lighten up

I am not sure that all Catholics are out to convert all Protestants and Vice Versa-if you go to an Episcopal Church service or a “High” Lutheran service you would be hard pressed to find a significant difference in the ritual-the sex of the Celebrant may be different however-the music would be better-

the one “Holy Catholic Apostolic Church” does not = the Roman Catholic Church-there are a number of Churches that have valid apostolic succession and do not give me the Pope Leo stuff where he invented infallibility-what would Father say about the “Old Catholics” or the Archbishop of Canterbury-clearly the eastern Orthodox are valid and have apostolic tradition

Until we have an open dialog on issues like this for every new Catholic that comes in 2 will go out the back door

So every Catholic who has attended a Protestant service (Protestant defined by the Roman catholic Curia) is now excommunicated ??? not even the most fundamental Catholic could believe that

Love and Mercy

Hi there, yinandyang. You might want to study that verse within the context of the rest of chapter 3 of 2 Thessalonians. You’ll see that the “tradition” spoken of there doesn’t have anything to do with “Sacred Tradition” as you describe as quoted. I don’t know what version of scritpure you are using, but here’s a link to Douay-Rheims, which I understand to be used by some Catholics:

The subject of chapter 3 has to do with idleness and disorderly conduct, not Roman Catholic Tradition. There’s a good word in there for all of us. Hope this helps.

Dear Yinandyang,

Why would you even want to attend a Protestant service with your friend more than once or twice? Being a Catholic, attending Protestant services will not fulfill your Sunday obligation to attend Mass, even though you attend to your Parish the rest of the days in the week. You are correct that there are provisions when you are in a country where there is not a Parish hundreds or thousands of miles away, but for your comment about going to daily Mass I don’t think this is your situation, isn’t it? What is the reason behind you going with your friend to her church? Is it that you want to understand her faith better and be in a better position to explain yours? Is it because you feel something is missing from your experience at Mass? Is it because their music is more appealing to you than that in your Parish?

Second, if this is troubling you so much, then just quit doing it. Probably your friend is well intentioned, but remember that many Protestants do not even consider us Catholics as Christians. I’m a Catholci living in the Bible Belt, so I have plenty of stories to tell! Once one Baptist told me at work “Oh, I didn’t know you believed in Christ also!”, and also other thought that we had changed the Bible because he bought a Missal in an antique store and he though “That” was the Catholic Bible… duh! .

Their sole and well intentioned purpose is to save souls, including those of us Catholics. Their tactics usually include being extremely friendly to us, make us feel welcome in their community and later, when there’s an emotional bond, try to convince us that we are in the wrong church, that our church is either the whore of Babylon, that we follow traditions of men, or that we don’t even read the Bible. They are well trained to use few verses they know by heart totally out of context, glue them together in a way that the untrained Catholic might find appealing and making a lot of sense. Once this is done, the Catholic usually drifts away from the fraith and joins their ranks.

So, bottom line. Next time your friend invites you, tell her that you would love for her to come to your Parish instead (since you’ve gone to her church already several times). If she declines, then just tell her that you appreciate her invitation, but that you are going to your own Church. Period. In the meantime read the great tracks in the Catholic Answers site on how to defend and explain the Catholic faith. I’d also recommend you to listen to the archives of the Catholic Answers live radio program. I think with this you’d be better equiped to discuss your faith when the time comes… and it will, it’s just a matter of when.

In the love of Christ,


**You wrote: ** *Guys – lighten up I am not sure that all Catholics are out to convert all Protestants and Vice Versa-if you go to an Episcopal Church service or an “High” Lutheran service you would be hard pressed to find a significant difference in the ritual-the sex of the Celebrant may be different – however, the music would be better—.

The one “Holy Catholic Apostolic Church” does not = the Roman Catholic Church --there are a number of Churches that have valid apostolic succession and do not give me the Pope Leo stuff where he invented infallibility – what would Father say about the “Old Catholics” or the Archbishop of Canterbury – clearly the Eastern Orthodox are valid and have apostolic tradition

Until we have an open dialog on issues like this for every new Catholic that comes in 2 will go out the back door.*

So every Catholic who has attended a Protestant service (Protestant defined by the Roman catholic Curia) is now excommunicated ??? not even the most fundamental Catholic could believe that

Mac, Your heart is in the right place, :wink: but you go just too far in personally conferring catholicity on so many of the denominations which claim to have it. :shrug: Aside from the Old Catholics, whom you mention rightly, as well as the Eastern Orthodox, obviously, there are for the rest only religious communions which feign catholicity but that, alas at heart, are Protestant.

The Anglicans lack apostolic orders, even though they outwardly have retained episcopacy, because their early bishops forfeited catholicism for Calvinist and even Zwinglian churchmanship, which has a very defective concept of the ministry (including that of bishops) and of the sacraments. See my recent review on the various Amazon WWW sites of George Tavard’s book, The Quest for Catholicity for a discussion of this as Tavard so well documented it, kindly but firmly.

The Lutherans always have maintained a more exalted and Catholic concept of the Mass and the Real Presence than the Anglicans, only some of whom long after the Reformation, and too late, returned to those ideas. Some Lutherans (Swedish, Finnish, Baltic) even have bishops who are in the Apostolic Succession a lot more surely than Anglican bishops only seem to be, but other Lutheran, elsewhere, have bishops who are not in Apostolic Succession or have no episcopacy at all. In any event, the catholicity of Lutheranism and, especially, of Anglicanism, is very precarious!

For sure, Anglicans and Lutherans tend to have very beautiful and devout liturgy, and fabulous liturgical music :stuck_out_tongue: and have not turned their backs on beauty and dignity in worship. (Catholics used to have such, too, before the reaction to Vatican-2 drove good music and the Traditional Latin Mass out of usage.) However, all the wishful thinking in the world does not make them truly Catholic.

So, depite all the nice sentiment, a Catholic cannot “lighten up” (as you urge) over this essential matter!

Pax, Jerry Parker

Code of Canon Law (1983) Can. 6, paragraph 1:
(especially #1 & #3)

“When this Code goes into effect, the following are abrogated:
1- the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;
2- other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescription of this Code, unless particular laws are otherwise expressly provided for;
3- any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See, unless they are contained in this Code;
4- other universal disciplinary laws dealing with a matter which is regulated ex integro by this Code.”

I guess the modern Catholic Church knows better than the Apostles, Fathers and over 1500 years of Tradition. Anything that suits the modernist whims of the majority. :shrug:

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