ASK FATHER: Traditional Latin Mass in a Protestant church?

From a reader…


Dear Fr. Z,
In my locality, there is great hostility towards the traditional Latin Mass — so much so that the pastor would not allow a Mass to be celebrated inside the Catholic parish church. Unfortunately, the bishop is similarly inclined, and recourse to him has proved fruitless. However, some local Protestant pastors are very friendly and are willing to let us use their churches for the occasional celebration of a Latin Mass. Is this allowed or is there any rule against it? Would it be better to have the Mass in a living room or a hotel conference room?
Thank you for your help.

Canon 932 stipulates that Holy Mass should be offered in a sacred place, “unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise, in such a case the celebration must be done in a decent place.”

I think that a Protestant church is a “decent place”.  As a matter of fact, in Chicago, the Institute of Christ the King was offered space by their Presbyterian neighbors during the reconstruction of their church. HERE

If them, why not you?

The Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum, in paragraph 108, clarifies, “The diocesan Bishop shall be the judge for his diocese concerning this necessity, on a case-by-case basis.”

A priest offering the Holy Sacrifice hidden by a hedgerow, or in a dining room with the shades drawn in a place and at a time where the practice of traditional Catholicism is banned, would still be licit.

Having Mass in a hotel or at a Protestant church is not optimal.  But the hostility of one’s pastors, especially in light of John Paul’s call in Ecclesia Dei adflicta and Benedict’s juridical admonition in Summorum Pontificum might necessitate taking action, especially if you are being ignored or worse.

Keep in mind, however, that priests are vulnerable to incredible abuse by their bishops.

I’ve been hearing more and more of cases of conservative priests being sent away for “evaluation” and “treatment”, sometimes over many months of forced drugs and “therapy”.  “Pour encourager les autres“, no doubt.  Don’t push your priests into doing something that you know is going to ruin your long-term prospects and remove him from being a spiritual benefit to you.  This is, after all, the age of accompaniment and mercy.


A reader asked:

Regarding your recent post answering whether a Catholic Mass could be held in a Protestant Church if necessary*, I seem to remember a much older post being somewhat indignant that a Protestant service was held in a Catholic Church. While I could easily be mis-remembering, I am still curious what the difference between these two types of event would be.

You are probably referring to my thoughts about Protestant churches hosting wacko wymyn ordinations.

These are entirely different situations.

There is nothing wrong with a protestant church giving a group access to their church to do something legitimate.

There is everything wrong when what is done is completely nuts.   As a matter of fact, that’s a way of giving the entire Catholic Church the finger.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Before the Motu Proprio it was quite common in London for one off Traditional Masses to be said in friendly High Church Anglican churches.

  2. Julia_Augusta says:

    Reading about bishops who are hostile to tradition breaks my heart. When I came back to the Church after decades away, I was drawn immediately to the traditional Latin mass. To me, it is heaven on this earth, out of time and out of place. I try as much as possible to provide monetary support to traditional orders and priests. Sometimes I cry at night, asking Our Lord for help. I don’t know His plan for Holy Mother Church but I pray my Rosary everyday because Our Lady is always there and Our Lord is always with us and listens to us. His plan is mysterious and I just have to go along with it. But it’s very painful to watch bishops and cardinals beat down priests and laypeople who want nothing more than the treasure of Roman Catholic tradition.

  3. JesusFreak84 says:

    The Shrine *did* eventually have to leave that Protestant building when a new pastor took over and she wasn’t as keen on having us there =-\ So that’s also something to keep in mind; I don’t think Protestant pastors care as much about running roughshod over the decisions of their predecessors as Catholic priests tend to.

  4. RichR says:

    So many Catholics are ashamed of their Sunday worship. They will not take Protestant friends to Mass because they are concerned it will drive the potential converts away from the Church rather than toward it. Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results?

  5. Nan says:

    I’m taking my protestant friend to church Saturday morning, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI on Saturday morning for Mass w one of my favorite priests, Cardinal Burke. It was her idea.

  6. Malta says:

    Our local Bishop hates the TLM–we might have to move into a cave I know of in the mountains!

  7. Lisieux says:

    A dear friend of mine died in 2003. She was a staunch traditionalist, and in fact introduced me to what wasn’t then known as the Extraordinary Form. She was also a children’s writer with a reasonably large fan following, and some of us organised a memorial day for her in London, beginning with Mass. Fr Nicholas du Chaxel FSSP agreed to be the celebrant, and we booked St Botolph’s-without-Bishopsgate, one of the Anglican churches in the City of London, together with their choir. Paradoxically (as Father pointed out), the church was far more suitable for the Tridentine rite than most Catholic churches, since it hadn’t been ‘modernised’: the altar was still against the wall at the east end. The funniest (and saddest) thing was at the lunch afterwards: there were several Catholics who were at the memorial day, though few of them were old enough to have been adults when the EF was, so to speak, ordinary, and one of them commented how strange (and pleasant) it was to see a *young* priest!

  8. Sonshine135 says:

    Quite interesting how in this “age of mercy” we have:
    – Priests punished for offering the Traditional Latin Mass
    – Those who act out sexual deviancy elevated while those with inclinations that follow the church are all but ignored.
    – Acceptance and welcoming in the Church of law-breaking, line-jumping immigrants at the expense of those who are trying to become naturalized the right way.
    – Annulments at the expense of the families that are left in ruin and disarray.

    Yep, that “mercy” has a funny way of manifesting itself in the church sometimes.

  9. William says:

    Somewhere someone will justify pushing TLMs to Protestant churches that it’s all in the spirit of Unitatis Redintegratio.

  10. Simon_GNR says:

    In Great Britain and Ireland many Protestant churches (i.e. Anglican ones) were Catholic churches for hundreds of years before Protestantism was invented, so I have no qualms about attending a Catholic Mass at an ancient Anglican church. Amongst the Anglican clergy and congregations there are many places that are sympathetic to Catholic traditions, and some of these parishes kindly allow their churches to be used by Catholic priests and congregations. A couple of months ago I went to a Catholic Mass celebrated by the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham at an Anglican church. Parts of that church date back to the 10th or 11th century, and quite apart from pre-dating the Protestant Reformation by about 500 years, may actually pre-date the Great Schism of 1054! In such an environment with the plainsong chanting etc I really got a glimpse of the splendour of Catholic liturgy I rarely get an my local 1950’s built (and 2000’s “wreckovated”) Catholic Church.

Comments are closed.