Would you interrupt an offensive homily?

My wife always seems hear the bad homilies…

I know I’ve told this first story once before:

Before we were married, my wife went to mass at her normal parish. Rather than have a normal homily, the monseigneur had certain members of the parish perform a skit. He had a role in it, but he was not the person who was explaining the scriptures in the process. So, for all practical purposes, the lay people gave the homily. At the end of the homily, an old man in a wheelchair wheeled his way up to the altar, told the priest he was committing a mortal sin by having lay people give the homily, then went back to his previous location. (That was in Texas, btw).

A few weeks ago, she was working at a summer camp here in MA, and she went to Mass at a local parish. This happened to be the Sunday after the state legislature refused to allow the issue of gay marriage to be on the 2008 ballot. In the homily, the priest said that “The Catholic Church teaches us to hate gay people” and that “He is more open if anyone needs to speak with him on these matters.”

So, in either of these situations, would you have acted like the old man and challenged the priest in the middle of the homily, would you have talked to him after mass, or would you have done nothing? Honestly, I think I would have done nothing. I’m still planning on drafting a letter to the local bishop about the latter scenario.

That’s a tough one.

I think interrupting would be very presumptuous, disruptive, and ultimately set an even worse example than the “homily” in this case did.

I would definitely pull the priest aside and ask where the authority to do and say such things came from.

I’ve done this.

As for interrupting the Mass: I go to the archdiocese cathedral. People run up the aisle all the time yelling things at the cardinal. They want to be heard I guess.

That must be an odd sight!

I wouldn’t have the guts, but I would be really, really glad to have someone else stand up and say loudly: “That is NOT what the Catholic Church teaches.” Yes, that priest needs to be spoken to alone, and be reported, but meanwhile, how many in that flock (even one!) will leave the graces of the Church someday because that point of view will be confirmed on TV and elsewhere, and they will say: “Yes, its true! I heard it at Mass! By a priest!”


What keeps liberals in the churches here is that they think, “Rome might be behind the times-but my parish, my priest, is not!”

In Britain it is criminal offence to interrupt a religious service, precisely to stop people shouting out in the middle of the sermon, with the potential for creating disorder.

hi Malcolm,

I wasn’t aware of this one lol…having seen it happen on the news a few times. I don’t doubt that you may be right but do you have a link or a source?..

I thought you always had the right to free speech wherever you are as long as it did not lead to public unrest or preech hate?


I didn’t know that :smiley: - thanks :slight_smile:

I think it’s a very bad idea anyway, simply because it does not seem like very Christian behaviour. If others want to behave in that way, so be it - but ISTM that Christians are held to a higher standard. And it’s easy to say this sort of thing when one has never been tempted…

If it were not offensive to interrupt a homily, anyone could raise his hand and said “Folks, let me replace the priest and I’ll celebrate the mass for you all”.

A mass is very holy - it is neither a conference nor a meeting. One should not interrupt the homily and draw attention to himself.

I wouldn’t have interrupted the Mass, but I certainly would have approched the priest after Mass and said, “Please provide me with the official docuents from the Holy See which tell us to hate homosexuals.”

This may be relevant - opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1994/Ukpga_19940033_en_16.htm#mdiv154

thanks gottle, I believe this is just simply to stop disturbance of the peace… we still have the right of free speech to protest and to speak out so long as the purpose of this is not to cause public unrest…

I could be wrong but it’s not this act if there is one…irrelevant to the thread though, I was just curious. I know you are allowed to protest and speak out at political talks etc and also in public places and I have seen on TV some interruptions on TV at canterbury cathedral, it’s not an offense but they drag you off so it doesn’t get heated lol


I personally would never interrupt a sermon as I’d feel it was rude, but I would…if it was v bad… ask that the priest or vicar etc corrected themselves in the next sermon or on the notice sheet in some way…not a public thing but maybe just an article that would offer a church view… and if it was very bad I would ask the bishop, though I’ve never known this to happen for something said in a sermon before.

i think it’d be rude to interrupt mass. but in a case like that (the latter case that is) i might have said something. the idea of a priest basically committing heresy in the middle mass, leading people astray from the truth is already an interruption. it’s an error that needs correcting in front of the congregation. not privately with the priest while others walk out with either a hatred of gay people or a hatred of the church, either of which is bad.

the only time i’ve heard of mass being disrupted was at my old parish in south carolina. this crazy fundamentalist guy stood up in the middle of mass (i think during the homily) and started shouting “this is an abomination!” etc. etc. i think the ushers escorted him out.

Amen to that… I agree totally…

Infact I have been in a mass where a guy in the front rows in a wheel chair started to laugh and raised his hand between the homily and the setting of the table… so to speak…

Needless to say… It was uncomfortable, but the priest… a good friend of mine, just ignored the guy and continued… take this and eat it… this is my body… etc… etc…

needless to say, the guy in the front row put his hand down and behaved himself… nobody should interrupt a mass period… I personally dont care for whatever reason…

I’ve only heard of 1 mass that was stopped and that is pretty famous… ie: the bread and wine turned into flesh and blood… check the net :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Well, I reckon people who really hate the Church never go anywhere near the Church but conspire in dark places to contaminate the souls of the innocent.

Those who run angrily up the aisles of the Church may be doing injury to the peace required for the prayers of the Mass, but they are putting themselves squarely in the path of the Church and therefore deserve inclusion.

One need only step into the aisle and invite them to discuss their points after Mass is concluded but to sit with the family meanwhile. That is the charitable thing to do.

Some folks stand up and yell Shut up! or Get out A****e! Not very effective witness. Mind you it is easy for us to say because we have so much experience of folks running up the aisle yelling at the cardinal.

I imagine it would be horrifying for visiting tourists who may not have ever seen such a thing. We have a lot of American Catholics from small towns visiting us at the Cathedral.

I think the Bible provides a format for confronting another in the faith who has gone astray, first privately, then with a group of believers, etc.

So perhaps the best First action would be to bring up concerns privately with the priest.

If something blatant is being done to disrespect the Faith, or Sacraments, and your conscience and the Holy Spirit tell you to act…then do so, even if that means being disruptful. Think Jesus in the temple throwing the money changers out.


I don’t see anyone but Jesus as validly doing that, and I don’t see anyone else in the New Testament doing so, so I think the first part of your post is all good but this last is wrong.

There is a system in place for addressing these things and the only other valid response I could see would be to stand up and walk out. It makes the point & leave room to follow the scriptural system to deal with it all.

So, in either of these situations, would you have acted like the old man and challenged the priest in the middle of the homily, would you have talked to him after mass, or would you have done nothing? Honestly, I think I would have done nothing. I’m still planning on drafting a letter to the local bishop about the latter scenario.

I would and have walked out of mass and fulfilled my Sunday obligation elsewhere. Is walking out interrupting? I do think it can be a tiny bit disruptive if people know what you are doing (versus going to use the restroom after which you would return.)

But interrupting the priest, whether shouting or going up to the pulpit only makes people look like they belong in a mental hospital. Unless they are old. Maybe they are a bit off but just maybe they’ve had it and at there age they’ve earned the right to be heard.

I heard a tape in the past with a Q&A in which a young man mentioned how he would sit in the front and hold up signs that had “heretic” or whatever written on them. He would hold them so the priest could see them during the (heretical, one presumes) homily. I don’t recommend doing that but this guy was booted out of a seminary for being too orthodox. I guess he was bitter but ihe also sounded slightly unhinged. Which of course I liked.:wink:

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