Using a church as a movie theater


A few weeks back, one of our parish committees had the idea to show movies in the church as both a community-building and fundraising effort. To clarify, this wouldn’t be as part of Mass or any other liturgical event, the movies shown would be family-friendly, and the Blessed Sacrament would be removed from the tabernacle. I’m aware of the document from the Congregation for Divine Worship regarding concerts in churches ( and I presume much of what’s in that document would apply here.

What’s not clear to me is exactly what the authority of the CDW’s document is. That is, is it a mandate or just strong suggestions? Towards the end of the document, for example, it has a list of items that the local Ordinary can specify–in the absence of any guidance from the Diocese, how bound are we by the CDW’s document?

If anyone has any experience with this firsthand or has a link to a document which deals specifically with showing movies in a church, I’d appreciate hearing from you. Using an active church to show movies doesn’t sit well with me, but maybe I’m not seeing the whole, uh…picture.


During last years diocese wide pastoral service appeal, they showed a 5 min video during the homily during mass on a screen the propped up.

The video was from the Bishop so I guess it is acceptable. But that’s the extent of my experience.


If you have an auditorium or parish hall; I feel that would be a more appropriate venue.


Same here. Southern Diocese.


Full length movies are shown in the Parish Hall or School Cafeteria at our church on Family Movie Night which are on Mondays once a month.


Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately we don’t have a hall or school as yes, those would be more appropriate.


We have those around 2-3 times a week. :smiley:

Generally 1-2 kids type movies ( I think Despicable Me II was last week) and a religious themed movie.


No, I would not use the church to show movies no matter what, and especially not to make money. Choose another location.


From the article:

The Ordinary may, however, for individual cases, permit other uses, provided they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place".

It would seem to be the decision of the priest. It does no good talking of more appropriate places if no other place exists.


Is the Ordinary the parish priest or the local bishop? I’d prefer to not show movies at all if the only option is showing them in the church.


The “Ordinary” is the bishop, not the pastor or priest of the place.


I agree. One thing I love about my church, and something that 2 different people have mentioned in RCIA, is that is always open to people who want to come by and pray and spend some time with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

It would be sad to see someone stop by expecting this and be redirected because there was a film being shown instead.


Oops. My mind over read the thought. I meant to add that. Yes, the bishop can approve this.


Thanks again, everyone. Your input is appreciated.


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