What can a Catholic Church be used for?

I went to a funeral on a military base. The church was Catholic but the service was not. Can Catholic church’s be used for non Catholic functions? Perhaps because a military funeral was involved some exceptions were made.
To go along with this, can a Catholic chaplain of a military base perform non Catholic ceremonies?

I’ve heard of Catholic and Jewish congregations sharing facilities, with no problems. I’d imagine that as long as the building is used in a respectful manner, it’s fine. There might be special rules concerning the use of the altar, and if there’s a sacristy in the church, there would almost certainly be special rules for that, but few other denominations use an altar in the same way as Catholics, and to my knowledge, none of them use the Sacristy (Episcopalians possibly excepted), so those issues wouldn’t be likely to come up.

My old parish in Reston, VA, St. Thomas a Becket, was a multi-use structure rented out to all manner of non-Catholic Church functions. It looked like a ski lodge. Not unusual in the least.

Apparently, you can’t have a virtual shoot-out between humans and gun-toting aliens with hundreds killed during a battle inside.

Catholic churches have always been available to be used for other religious services. Back in the days before the ecumenical movement such events would have been more rare, (although I recall hearing of Catholic churches being “loaned” to Protestant groups after fires, floods, hurricanes, and similar events even in those days).

On military bases and prisons, it was pretty rare to find separate chapels built for every denomination, so everyone shared.

There are special rules to consecrate a church that are then used to deconsecrate it when the entire building will no longer be used as a church, but I have never heard of a rule prohibiting the use by another group. (I suspect that the church would frown on sacrifices offered to Baal or Moloch.)

I am also not awarer of any prohibitions on the use of the sanctuary (the area surrounding the altar–as opposed to the sacristy, the room where the priest and servers get dressed). Part of the deconsecration of a church involves sealing the sacrarium, but that would involve simply a request that the non-Catholic group avoid pouring anything down that sink.

I’d observe that chapels on a military base are generally not the property of the church in question but rather that of DoD, erected to permit the free exercise of their faith by those stationed at that base. This is apt to influence the answer.

Church of England isn’t (Roman) Catholic.

Although I don’t think the latter would sanction a deathmatch either.

Ack. You got me there.
Then again, if you’re fighting aliens, in theory they’re not covered under “thou shalt not kill”…

I grew up, to a large extent, in Columbia, Maryland: home of the “Interfaith Center”. The two in which St. John’s Roman Catholic Church has space are just as much Catholic churches as St. Louis down in Clarksville is, but they’re also home to many other congregations.

According to my mother, the theology/religion teacher in the family, a Catholic church can be used for pretty much anything, with one caveat: if there’s a tabernacle in the room, then it has to be used for religious ceremonies. You can use that room for your wedding, but the reception has to be in another room, if it’s held on-site at all.

My Catholic parish church lent its crypt to the neighbouring Presbyterians for about two years while their church was being refurbished.

Exactly. Manchester Cathedral is supposed to be a sanctuary from the mayhem surrounding it.
(Waits to see if the resident Mancunians bother to open this thread…)
(Dammit, just realised CNN got in there in the fifth paragraph with the stereotype of Manchester)

I’m told rave parties are not allowed. Too bad, since the altar is perfect for the DJ booth, the choir loft would be great for a ‘chill out area’, the stained glass and stations of the cross are ‘trippy’, and the confessionals are ideal spots to discretely smoke, snort, shoot and pop drugs.

Oh, let’s not drag a perfectly good GQ thread into Great Debates! :slight_smile:

As long as the Eucharist is not present, the bulding can be used for pretty much anything that is not inherently disrespectful. Concerts, meetings, etc are all fine. Celebrations of other (non-satanic) religions are also fine. The main restriction, of course, is that you cannot mess it up too much so it is ready for daily mass. This means that you are limited to functions that need benches oriented towards a center.

At my home parish, there were a couple of events that we hosted that we rearranged the pews to make room for demonstration tables. That is often a ton of work and it would require the good will of the pastor of that parish. YMMV

As for the Catholic priest performing non-catholic ceremonies, it would depend on what ceremonies we are talking about. Many will agree to perform a non-denominational service, not much more than that. Definitely not a ceremony by the rite of a different religion.

A recent case in British Columbia illustrated that the Church would not allow a same-sex marriage reception in the local Knights of Columbus hall.

The salvation of your eternal soul.


During the news coverage of a fatal fire that occured up the street, the Catholic Church allowed the media to use the building while covering the story.