Removal of Blessed Sacrament for secular events

I was recently shocked when went to a local parish for evening Mass and found that the Mass was relegated to the basement because some kind of College Gospel Choir contest was taking place in the Church proper.

I was shocked because the Most Blessed Sacrament had not been removed, and the Tabernacle was not left open. Also the Sanctuary Lamp was still lit.

Have the Rubrics been changed on this. I was taught as a boy (when Catholic Schools were truly Catholic) that, if the church is used for a secular purpose, the Most Blessed Sacrament must be retired to another place, the Tabernacle must be open, and the Sanctuary Lamp extinguished. Has the modern church changed even that?

Needles to say, there was quite a bit of random chatter going on in the Divine Presence!

I would agree with you and disagree that the Church should be used for secular purposes in the manner you described. That should be avoided unless in circumstances where there is no choice.

Most churches would have adjoining building or even in the church proper where there are rooms and facilities to carry out such activity and other activities of the church.

Definitely there is no changes in the church position on the reverence for the tabernacle and it should be kept at that.

You can ask the parish priest for clarification and his rationale. Gospel choir contest is not exactly secular though I agree that the main chapel should not be used for just any purpose.

The pastor should’ve told the contest director they can’t use the Church that night because that time is already taken. They seem to have their priorities out of order- because they are bumping God aside for the choir contest. They should also remove the Blessed Sacrament if the Church is to be used for secular purposes.

Was the sanctuary at least veiled/curtained off and inaccessible from those who are using the nave?


The document you are interested is Concerts in Churches, issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1987. That’ll have the answers you’re looking for.


Where can I find the Rubrics on this. I don’t want to go to the pastor without ammunition.


Thank you very much!



Should have and did are unfortunately two different things in too many parishes.


Hi fisherjmj. I don’t think we can find an official Rubrics from the Vatican on this. BTW Rubric pertains to the specific body movement of priest when celebrating the mass so what you actually asked is an official stance, not rubric, on this issue. Just a layman guess, the correct procedure on how to address the Tabernacle, the Altar and The Sanctuary should give us some insight on how we should treat them. These have been covered quite well in few of the threads here.

MarkThompson, I open the link you provided. Look like it is a local national document. It touches on this topic though. Guideline like that should always be helpful but then again we should always go back to the principle of reverence to what contain in the church.

Perhaps others can help you on what you ask fisherjmj. My experience is being limited to altar server and taking care of the sacristy as a young boy and later being lector and commentator which I am still doing as part of my contribution to the mass if I am in town.

Not so. It is an official pronouncement of the Vatican dicastery charged with regulating the matters it covers, and, as reported in the magazine Sacred Music, which printed the document in 1987 (see here, pdf) it “was sent to the presidents of the national conferences of bishops and through them to commissions on liturgy and sacred art. It has protocol number 1251/87.”

Good. We have this issue covered then. :thumbsup:

At a Chapel that I am associated with, we have two seperate groups useing our facilities.
From a pure point of safeguarding the Lord, the tabernacle is locked with the key removed to a seperate hidden position in the sacristy. It would be perferable to remove Our Lord but unless you have two tabernacles, the high altar is the safest spot to guard against possible desecration.
We do not allow anyone to use the sanctuary but insist that all remain outside the communion rail.
The chapel would not be used for a college choir unless they were Catholic.
Catholic choirs practicing are not a secular event and Our Lord might just enjoy the music and company!


The event in question was, I am told, a contest of local Jr. College choirs singing Gospel Music, it was not a church choir practice.

Since the Sanctuary Lamp was still lit and the Tabernacle closed, I am assuming that Our Lord was still present. There was much chatter, laughing and so on. No attention was given to the presence of Our Lord. It is my understanding that when Our Lord is not present, the Tabernacle is to be left open.

I was so upset, that I could not and did not finish my customary Rosary in the Divine Presence.


Thank you so much. You have given me what I need to have before I approach the Pastor who otherwise is very orthodox.

Thomas JD,

Unfortunately today many parishes have non liturgical events such as recitals and such in their churches, and most no longer even have altar rails.

The local Cardinal loves to rent out what he calls a Cathedral (many have other names for it) for these types of events. You can often hear of these events advertised on KUSC Classical Radio

In the incident I am presently discussing, the contestant choirs were gathered in front of the main altar where a temporary sort of choir scaffold had been set up, and the conductor was set up just in front of where the now non existent altar rail gate would have been.

Sorry, I did not address your concern but rather assumed the choirs were Catholic.
If your pastor can make a allowance for this type of events he can assure that the reverance due our Lord is maintained.
Our Lord could be reposed in the sanctuary with someone in attendance until the church becomes empty.
It has been my experience that a suitable solution be presented at the same time as you bring the issue to your Pastor.

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