Recently, I have gained another theological point of view regarding the legal phrase Qui tacet consentire videtur (He who is silent is understood to consent). The area where I have seen the most obviously application of this phrase is in arguing against the false doctrine of Silence Of The Scriptures, but now I see that it also applies to sitting silently in a congregation while false doctrine is being taught.
I have a special place in my heart for the Edmonton Church of Christ, I would not be where I am today in regards to my faith without their influence, and so I feel the desire to praise God in union with them. We praise and pray to the same God, and have a great deal of doctrinal common ground. For this reason, I have felt the longing to attend their Sunday morning worship service and Bible study. I recently did this, but unfortunately I cannot in good conscience do so again.
Throughout the worship service there were a number of prayers that I could not say "Amen" to because I did not agree with everything that was being prayed for. As well, I did not agree with everything that was contained in the sermon. One point in particular that offended me was the accusation that Catholics believe that Christ is re-sacrificed in the Mass.
During the sermon I became aware that if I remained silent I would be giving my consent; however, this was not the time of place to begin a debate. At the end of worship service I approached the preacher and politely pointed out that Catholics do not believe that Christ is re-sacrificed in the Mass, but that the Mass is a participation in the one sacrifice of Christ. I would have liked to stay for the Bible study, but I could not in good conscience stay any longer than I had already done.
This article may prompt you to ask the questions: "Why would I go to a non-Catholic church to worship?" and, "Is worship valid in a non-Catholic church?" Most Catholics would not raise such questions, but some Christians that are not in full communion with the Catholic church may.
First of all, I would not attend a non-Catholic worship service at the expense of missing Mass. I would only attend a non-Catholic worship service if Mass was not available, or if I had already attend Mass, or will attend after the non-Catholic service.
All Christian worship services, whether the congregation is in full communion with Rome or not, are valid if they do not teach heresy. They all worship the same God, as do the Jews and the Moslems. Some Christians believe that if they attend a worship service other than their own particular church's, they would be worshipping a completely different and false god. This is completely untrue. Even the early Christians attended the Jewish synagogues, even though these Jews rejected Jesus. The same can be said for non-Catholic Christian churches that reject some Christian doctrines.
The only problem that may arise when worshipping with a congregation that is not in full communion with Rome, is the scenario described above. Only when heresy is being taught or if you cannot say "Amen" to the prayers is it wrong to attend a non-Catholic worship service. When this scenario is not the case, it is good to attend other worship services to show our unity and willingness to embrace our separated brethren. As well, doing so would follow the example of Pope John Paul II, who has not only prayed with heretics, but also Jews and Moslems.
The Edmonton Church of Christ is very dear to me, and so I have the greatest desire to worship God with them. Unfortunately, I am prevented from doing so during their worship services became these service promote heresy, and contain prayers that I cannot say "Amen" to. I will continue to pray for them, but, sadly, I will not pray with them in their worship services.
If a Catholic does attend a worship service other than one in the Catholic church or the Orthodox church, he must refrain for receiving Holy Communion. The same is also true of people outside of these churches; they cannot receive Holy Communion in the Catholic church or in the Orthodox church. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that there a major doctrinal differences in this area, which make inter-communion impossible at this time.