For a Catholic convert who either was raised in a Protestant church (including being baptized there) or who was married in a Protestant church, but whose parents, spouse and children want to remain Protestant and belong to the same church, is it still sin after Vatican II to attend the family's church worship and all the church activities for the sake of family bonding and existing church fellowship? The attendance is in addition to fulfilling all Catholic obligations.

This is in light of this guide for examination of conscience from a traditionally oriented Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri parish (under the first commandment):

Have I taken part in any non-Catholic worship?

Helpful clarifications that an answer may provide:

  • Is a dispensation needed?
  • Does it make a difference that the intention behind as well as the circumstances of the moral decision is to preserve family unity while persuading the rest of the family to convert as well?
  • How about when the family member is a spouse married in a Protestant ceremony that is recognized by the Catholic as valid before the Lord (i.e. not a civil marriage)?
  • Is participation in the Protestant Lord's Supper as memorial (Anabaptist and Baptist) okay since it is done recalling the same sacrifice and using similar wordings as in the Catholic church?
  • How about when the Lord's supper is a means of grace (Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, Methodist)?

1 Answer 1


It is forbidden for Catholics to engage in communicatio in sacris—joining non-Catholics in their worship services:

1917 Canon 1258 §1 It is not licit for the faithful by any manner to assist actively or to have a part in the sacred [rites] of non-Catholics.

cf. Dom Augustine's A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law on '17 Can. 1258

This law is expressed in the 1983 code, in the section "Delicts against religion and the unity of the Church," as:

1983 Can. 1365 A person guilty of prohibited participation in sacred rites (communicatio in sacris) is to be punished with a just penalty.

cf. this commentary on '83 Can. 1365

  • 1
    But do Catholics even recognise, for example, a Baptist church as having any sacred rites? Their views of the sacraments are totally different. Surely praying with Protestants would be allowed. Singing probably would be okay. Hearing encouragements from the scriptures should be encouraged.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 3:57
  • 1
    This answer doesn't cover whether Vatican II document addresses this situation, nor does it consider the intention behind as well as the circumstances of the moral decision, which in this case is about responsibility to nurture family members. Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 4:00
  • Mark 7:9-13 applies well to this answer. Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 12:35
  • So if the Catholic does not participate in Communion, would it be wrong?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 16:04
  • 1
    @LukeHill 1917 Code canon 1258 §2: "Passive or merely material presence can be tolerated for the sake of honor or civil office, for grave reason approved by the Bishop in case of doubt, at the funerals, weddings, and similar solemnities of non-Catholics, provided danger of perversion and scandal is absent."
    – Geremia
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 17:11

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