A group of Christians praising God in song
Hello there Rosary lovers! In this post we will ask: can a Catholic go to a Christian church?

Fulfil your Sunday Obligation and Attend Mass Weekly

The first thing I wish to say is that if you are Catholic and if you are thinking of visiting to a different church, you need to fulfill your Sunday Obligation first before going to a different church

What this means is that your priority every Sunday (or Saturday night) is to attend a CATHOLIC Mass.

This is not optional for Catholics. To attend Mass on Sunday and holy days of obligation is a vital part of fulfilling the Ten Commandments and the Precepts of the Catholic Church. To fail to do this is a serious matter, unless you cannot attend due to illness or care of relatives, or other obviously sufficient reasons.

The Holy Mass is the supreme worship of Almighty God in this universe. Therefore, we have the grave responsibility as Catholics to ensure, as best as we can, to attend God’s lawful worship every Sunday and holy day of obligation.

Approach your Priest

Now, let’s suppose you intend to do this. You have every intention of going to Mass on Sunday, but you also wish to attend another church at another time in the week (even on a Sunday). 

In this case, my best advice would be that you should speak to your priest. Find out what kind of church it is, whether Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, or something else. This way, your priest can offer specific advice geared towards you.

As an important principle to follow as a Catholic, it is always a good idea to talk to your priest whenever you are thinking of a significant life issue or religious issue. You can always approach your priest (or any Catholic priest) over ANY issue you wish. I have found this absolutely invaluable in my life, and it’s something I really missed out on as a Protestant.

For instance, how on earth do I know whether it would be a good idea FOR YOU specifically, in your situation, to attend a different church? In YOUR case, it may be a bad idea. But in YOUR case, it may also be a good idea.

The only way to find out what God’s will is for you is to pray about it and to seek the guidance of your priest. It’s even a decent idea to raise the issue in Confession, if you wish.

Consider the Huge Variety of Protestant churches

Non-Catholic churches vary an incredible amount in what they offer. I am a former Protestant who was trained in Bible college for many years, so I really do know what I’m talking about here.

My experience as a Protestant was very positive and I was very happy being one. I only converted to the Catholic Church because I became absolutely convinced that the Catholic Church was true, following my intense study of sola scriptura, the foundational belief of Protestantism.

There are Protestant churches which believe that baptism saves people, and Protestant churches which think this idea is literally heretical (damnable). There are Protestant churches which are favourable to the Catholic Church, and many which absolutely cannot stand the Catholic Church.

There are Protestant churches which practice the Eucharist weekly, and there are Protestant churches which hardly celebrate the eucharist (if they even call it a eucharist) at all. Many Protestants believe that Jesus is really present in the bread and the wine, and many absolutely do not believe this.

The list could go on and on and on. This isn’t negativity, it’s pure and simply reality, and you as a Catholic need to be very aware of it.

There are Protestant churches which have a fairly high view of the sacraments, and Protestant churches which regard the very word ‘sacrament’ as highly suspicious.

Then you have to factor in the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). Their very doctrine of God is very different from the Catholic doctrine of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, completely reject the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity – one of the foundational beliefs of Catholicism.

Many non-Catholic churches are indeed similar to the Catholic Church, such as many Anglican and Lutheran churches. But this is far from the norm in Protestant Christianity. Most non-Catholic churches are remarkably different from Catholic worship.

For instance, the churches I used to attend as a former Evangelical would celebrate Sunday worship as follows. We would gather, sing hymns, have a reading from the Bible, sing more hymns, the minister would pray, then perhaps another hymn, then there would be a sermon of considerable length (averaging 30-40 minutes). Then there would be a hymn at the end and a closing prayer. And that was it. The entire focus was on hymn-singing and the Bible. Usually, there was no Sacrament in sight.

The celebration of the Lord’s supper (bread and wine) was relatively rare. In most of the Evangelical churches I attended, this was usually a once a month affair. And none of them believed that the bread and the wine was actually Jesus.

That said, I’ve been to Anglican services which much more resemble a Catholic Mass, where the sermon is short and the celebration of the Eucharist is the most important part.

The Orthodox Churches

A magnificent Orthodox Cathedral

The most similar Churches to the Catholic Church are the Orthodox Churches. These include the Eastern Orthodox Churches, such as the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. They also include the Oriental Orthodox Churches, such as the Coptic Church or the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

It seems that Catholics can attend these services (see this link), though NOT as a replacement for attending Sunday Mass (see this other link). 

So, if you plan on attending an Orthodox service, you STILL need to go to a Catholic Church on Sunday (or Saturday night).

Yet, most of the beliefs and practices of the Orthodox Churches are very, very similar to Catholicism, if not more or less essentially the same as the Catholic Church. This is not the case, as we’ve seen, with many Protestant churches.

All of the Orthodox Churches celebrate the Mass, that is, the Unbloody Sacrifice of the Eucharist. All of them venerate Mary. All of them have Bishops, all of them believe Baptism saves us, and so on. Many of them also treat the Pope with respect.

The Catholic Church is very sincere in her desire to reunite with these Orthodox Churches. The Catholic Church and many of the Orthodox Churches are in ongoing and active dialogue on how we can work out our differences and reunite. We hope and pray that one day we will in fact be reunited all together in one Church.

I would still talk to your priest, however, if you wish to attend an Orthodox service. He may be able to offer a caution specific to you and your situation. Or he may simply encourage you to attend as part of showing a brotherly spirit to these sister Churches of the Catholic Church.

Be aware that it is generally not a good idea to receive the Eucharist in an Orthodox Church. Most Orthodox priests and bishops do NOT freely offer the Eucharist to Catholics, and many would be upset if they gave it to you and later found out you were actually Roman Catholic.

Conclusion – Talk to your Priest

As with so many issues in life, I would recommend talking to your priest before thinking seriously about attending a non-Catholic church service. There may significant issues with doing this, which a priest can quickly identify. Or he may give you his blessing to do this, so long as you ensure you keep attending Catholic Mass on Sundays and Holy days of obligation.

I hope this has helped and if you have any other questions, please get in touch!

God bless you, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

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