Should I stay in geographical parish?


Thanks for your help answering questions!

I was wondering whether a Catholic has an obligation to attend the geographical parish to which they belong, and if not, under what circumstances would it be permissible to attend another parish? (aside from obvious, such as belonging to a different Catholic rite)

I currently live literally within a few hundred yards of the nearest Catholic church and I consider this a real blessing. This being said, I have sadly seen many liturgical abuses take place in this parish. While I have approached the priest when I was aware that what was taking place was a liturgical abuse (referring to Redemptionis Sacramentum and Canon Law) new issues keep arising. To give the priest some credit, he did correct one particular abuse that was taking place regularly when it was pointed out to him. Sadly though, because there remain ongoing liturgical abuses, I now feel that I can no longer trust that the Mass is being said properly. I don’t want to have to go to Mass preoccupied with whether or not what is being said or done is in accord with the teaching of the Church.

There are a handful of other Catholic Parishes nearby that are much more ‘orthodox’ that I could attend, but I don’t know that I should jump ship from the parish I have been attending. Would it be appropriate for me to change parishes or should I stay in a parish where liturgical practices are not in line with the teachings of the Church? I don’t want to be church shopping but I feel very uncomfortable attending a parish where the liturgical norms of the Church are not respected.

If it makes any difference in how you respond to this question, I am a student and therefore the parish I have been attending for the past year and a half (due to proximity) is not the parish I was raised in nor am I formally registered in the parish nor will I be remaining in the area of this parish after graduation.

One of my frustrations is that I feel that I can no longer be confident that what is taking place during Mass is in accord with the teaching of the Church. While I am a fairly well catechized Catholic, I don’t have full knowledge of all the teachings regarding liturgical norms. I feel frustrated and in a sense betrayed when it seems that every few weeks I discover something else that is being done contrary to the teaching of the Church in this parish. For instance, tonight, reading through some of the questions posted on this forum, I discovered that nothing can be added to the formula for distribution of communion (cf. I don’t want to be attending Mass in a parish where I feel that I’m constantly having to be on guard and thus distracted.

What am I to do?


Dear d,

The new code of canon law does not require that you register in the geographically nearest parish. Go where you are fed best.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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