Scandal and attending Protestant services

I used to be an Anglican, and my family still is. There are many memories (especially of my now deceased grandparents) associated with the Anglican parish my parents sometimes go to and where I used to work. Family tradition has it, for example, that we’d go to things like Remembrance Sunday (First World War) services, Christmas carol singing, and some other events (in addition to popping in once every few months on a Sunday).

Since I’ve become Catholic, I’ve been struggling with how to handle the tension: On the one side not wanting to offend my family and grandparents’ memory, on the other side not wishing to cause scandal. The Anglican vicar, with whom I am good friends, and just a few other members know that I have converted to Catholicism after I quit work there.

I don’t go there regularly, but I have been twice (or perhaps thrice) since my conversion. Once for Remembrance Sunday and once for the 50th anniversary of the organist, who has been there since my dad was little. I’m not sure if there was another occasion. Anyway, I never take Communion, and my family know the reason.

Now, I’m still not sure if this is the right thing to do, though. I understand that attending weddings and stuff, as long as it doesn’t cause scandal, can be permissible at non-Catholic churches, but it’s not the same thing as what I have been doing.

Do you have any thoughts or advice on this? What should I do? Have I perhaps even committed sin by attending? :shrug:


If you’re going to mass on a regular basis, then I don’t see a problem. I mean, what’s your motive? It seems to me partly so that you can maintain friendship with other Christians with whom you once shared a common tradition.

My wife and I were protestant when we married. I became Catholic about five years later. These days I try to go to her church about once a month, mainly for family reasons, although I get on fairly well with a group of other Christians in her church. We used to go together to one of their Bible study groups, so I know that group better than other people in her church.

Unfortunately I expect trouble down the track sooner or later, as the same old (Presbyterian ex-Methodist) pastor who predicted over 20 years ago that I’d become Catholic also commented “I think you’ll have trouble with the Baptists. They’re very much aware of being ‘Baptist’, much more so than Presbyterians are of being ‘Presbyterian’ for example”. So far it hasn’t happened, but he was so accurate I think something will happen, and then I might have to cut my ties with anything Baptist. He might have said that even before I met my Baptist wife. If I hadn’t married her, I probably would not have had any experience with the Baptists.

But I’ll wait till it happens. In the meantime, I’ll plod on attending her church once a month. I also have some other Protestant friends, and if they asked me to attend one of their services for some good reason, I would probably go.

My advice - play it by ear.

Bob, what a fortunate position to be in - talk about a chance to evangelize!!

My wife is Protestant (a Non-denominational bible / quasi baptist church). We alternate Sundays, one Sunday at my church and the next at her church. On the Sundays we go to her church the children and I attend an alternate mass time then usual to fulfill our Sunday obligation, and we do not receive communion in her church. My parish priest knows of our arrangement and says as long as we don’t miss mass and don’t take communion we are free to attend other church services.

Tougher than you think.

My Wife and I are the only Catholics on my side of the family. I was a Southern Baptist prior to converting. The rest of my family are SB, reformed Baptist, Pentecostal, and various other denominations. We live in another state and when we visit we know that whom ever we are with we will go to church with them as family. So we always find out when their services are and we look up the local Catholic Church and find a Mass that we can attend in addition to attending the service with the family’s church. keeps them happy and we keep or Sunday obligation.

[quote=Fr. Vincent Serpa]In the first place a Catholic has no business attending Protestant church services even occasionally. To participate in a heretical worship service and especially a communion service can be sinful for a Catholic because such an act is an affirmation of what we believe to be untrue.


The relevant concern in your canon law would, from memory, be indifferentism - failing to care about the difference between Catholic and Anglican or giving others the idea that you see no difference.

So long as, when someone at the Anglican parish asks you how you are (and wonders whether you are attending because you want to switch back), you say that you are very happy in your new church, you should be fine, I believe.


I never take communion, though. Does Father Serpa mean that “participating” in a communion service is taking their communion, or is it already just sitting in the pew?

There is no requirement that a Catholic absolutely and under every circumstance avoid non-Catholic religious services. In this case because the proximate cause is fellowship with the family and friends for just cause, and you do not receive communion, you are not creating scandal for those who know you.

The exception to this would be if you lived in a society where any apparent approval of a non-Catholic religion or church would cause scandal, which is not the case in North America and Western Europe.

The obligation to hear Mass on those days which are of obligation remains.


I’ve read Father Serpa’s opinion on the matter and respectfully disagree. He is capable of quoting canon law when applicable and since he didn’t in this instance, I assume this is only his opinion. I’m capable of attending another church service without any issues.

I’ve read Father Serpa’s opinion on the matter and respectfully disagree. He is capable of quoting canon law when applicable and since he didn’t in this instance, I assume this is only his opinion. I’m capable of attending another church service without any issues.

I guess you could ask yourself: if someone went from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism, would it be scandalous for that person to later attend an RC mass?

I am not sure how long it has been since the OP converted.
It sounds like you are sentimental about your old church and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I was episcopalian and anglican also before converting. I would get sentimental from time to time, but I still feel like the Catholic church has the fullness of the faith and I believe in the Real Presence so I think if I went back for a visit I wouldn’t feel comfortable. I don’t think going back for Remembrance Day or a special celebration is wrong as long as you don’t take communion.

Well, isn’t that different, since Anglicanism is schismatic/heretical and the Catholic Church is the One Church? Wouldn’t it be good for him to still attend (although not communicate)?

I converted just under a year ago. Officially, that is, although my beliefs had been Catholic quite some time before that. I’m not exactly sentimental about the old parish. I’m sentimental about my family. :stuck_out_tongue:

I understand. Are you from England, Canada, New Zealand or Australia? Being Anglican was part of your family history.
Is everyone else Anglican except for you?
I converted over 6 years ago and I had been lukewarm about christianity for 25 years. The episcopal church was all I knew so it was a scary step to make the conversion by myself.
Most of my family has passed, and we weren’t a real church going family, but it still took courage to make the step to the unknown and leave what was familiar behind.

I’m actually German, but my grandma was English, and I have lots of family over there. :slight_smile:

It’s a bit confusing, saying who’s what in my family… being in Germany, we have the addition of being listed in a certain religion with the state. My mum is officially Lutheran, but only goes to the Anglicans, my dad is Anglican, my brother is officially Lutheran, just as I was, but we all only went to the Anglican place.

My mother was lutheran and my dad was catholic and they became episcopalians to raise my sister and I in the episcopal church.
I would rather have been raised in the Catholic faith but . . .
Are there a lot of anglicans in Germany?

Not really. There’s a few local communities in Hamburg (where I was), Frankfurt, Berlin and two other places I forget. Many are expats who married Germans, but there are also many Africans who came to Germany. And some German protestants who like Anglican services better. :stuck_out_tongue:

When I was dating my to be husband, he was going to a non-denominational church with his children. He was raised Catholic though. I went to church with him but never received communion.

After we married, he got an annulment, we went to that church as well as the Catholic church. His son was still going to that church so we wanted to encourage him to continue. We went for 5 years until we moved and it wasn’t convenient for us to go to both.

I can see both good and bad. I liked their songs and had them in my head when I was at work during the week but their service was just a shadow of ours. I went on a retreat with the women but had to forgo communion with them and one always feels like an outsider when that happens. One never knows what they think about it.

They had a good choir and they even sang at our wedding. One of the songs had the words, “all are welcome to come to the alter” I wonder today what they thought about it when they couldn’t take communion at our wedding but provided that music.

Also, my SIL is Baptist. We went last Christmas to their service since her grandson was playing the cello. It was just a short service, nothing like a Catholic mass for Christmas, plus the minister had to make a big deal before communion saying, nothing magical is happening here, just a symbol of the last supper. That made us uncomfortable, like they think Catholic communion is a magic act or something. We won’t be going to that church again if he is there. It was just lame if nothing else. I even felt sorry for the regular members is they have to get a lecture before each communion.

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