“Ask a Priest: Could I Still Attend a Protestant Service If I Convert?”

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Q: If I convert to the Catholicism, can I still attend the Protestant church for the family’s sake? My wife and young kids don’t want to convert and still want me to attend the Protestant family church in which I was baptized and married. – P.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: While in some cases it might be OK to attend a Protestant service occasionally for the sake of family solidarity, you might want to pause and think through the implications of doing it on a regular basis.

Someone who is Catholic should give witness to his faith in public. In this case, your constant attendance at a Protestant service might send the wrong signal to others, including your own family.

It might come across as though you see Catholicism and Protestantism as more or less the same, or that you think of faith as something malleable, something to be reshaped to fit the social mold of the moment.

Also, in a Protestant service you will hear, well, a Protestant take on things—views that sometimes be at odd with Catholic teaching. This kind of thing could weaken your Catholic beliefs over time.

And, of course, attendance at a Protestant service wouldn’t fulfill the Mass obligation for Sunday or a holy day.

Ideally, people converting to Catholicism would do so because they recognize that the Church has the fullness of revealed truth. Hence, to continue to frequent a non-Catholic worship service would seem inconsistent for someone entering the Church.

It might be good to step back and consider why exactly you are thinking of converting to Catholicism.

If it’s because you recognize it as the Church established by Jesus, if you sense that it teaches the fullness of the Gospel, if you believe in the immense treasure of the sacraments, then presumably that is something you want your spouse and children to be a part of.

To help bring them to conversion you would want to intensify your prayers and sacrifices for them.

Moreover, a powerful way to signal to your loved ones your belief in Catholicism would be the venue you go to on Sundays and holy days.

Without knowing more about your particular situation, I would suggest that you speak with the priest who is or will be guiding you in the RCIA.

In the meantime, you might want to browse The Coming Home Network site. Count on my prayers for you and your family.


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