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.