Attending Churches of Other Faiths

Dear Catholic Exchange:

Hello, I hope you can help me. My husband and I are practicing Catholics and attend mass weekly. However, in a few weeks we will be out of town for the weekend and have been invited to attend my sister's church, which is Lutheran. My niece and my great niece will be participating in the service and I would love to attend.

Would that attendance to a Lutheran Church count as attending church for us, or would we have to confess to missing a week at our church to our local priests?


Dear Friend in Christ,

Attendance at the Lutheran service would not "count" as fulfilling your Sunday obligation. Further, to intentionally miss Sunday Mass is a serious sin for which you would need to go to Confession.

Fortunately, you have not missed Sunday Mass yet. Maybe on the weekend in question you can find a Mass that will work with your schedule. Perhaps a Saturday vigil Mass would do the trick.

It's a good thing that you want to support your relatives, and out of love and respect for them you may attend the Lutheran service. (I'm assuming, though, that your niece and great niece are not fallen away Catholics; you shouldn't go if your attendance would cause scandal or otherwise be misinterpreted as your condoning their leaving the Church.) But be that as it may, the priority must be participating in the Sunday Eucharist.

Since you have a couple of weeks, you might want to read Pope John Paul II's magnificent 1998 apostolic letter Dies Domini ("The Lord's Day"), which beautifully sets forth the significance of Sundays for Catholics. I think you'll find it most edifying. Here's a link:

Here is a link to CUF's Faith Fact on the specific question of missing Sunday Mass: Is Missing Sunday Mass a Mortal Sin.

United in the Faith,

Leon Suprenant

Catholics United for the Faith
827 North Fourth Street
Steubenville, OH 43952
800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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  • Guest

    Also, Catholics should understand that even if the Protestant congregation they visit practices "open communion," they should not receive communion at a Protestant service.

    Nor should they perform any act of worship, either outwardly, nor inwardly, toward the Protestant communion emblems as they are not confected to become the Body and Blood of Christ.

  • Guest

    Excellent point, mkochan. The statement in the article is a "hard saying," that observant Catholics must not attend non-Catholic church services with non-observant Catholic relatives. I am coming to understand the importance of this the older I get–I have two siblings with 3 divorces between them, and have attended none of their weddings. This did not endear me to them, and I didn't make an issue out of my absences at the time, which I now regret. I have a question, though, and I would guess other obedient Catholics do, as well: what is the best way to handle the situation when these non-observant baptized Catholic relatives and friends go to mass with you and then get up to go to Communion behind you? The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.

  • Guest

    I have to say, I disagree. As long as you are in one of GOD's houses and worshiping God, Jesus and the holy Spirit, I see nothing wrong with it. I follow the Bible and Jesus. I am a practising Catholic and I do go to Catholic services at the moment. Ultimatly, I am a Christian and I like to embrace other Christians whatever church they go to.

    Tami G

  • Guest

    Tami, you can disagree all you want, but this is what the Catholic Church teaches. 

  • Guest

    Tami, what exactly do you disagree with?