If I'm serving active duty and only have access to a Protestant service, does it fulfill my Sunday obligation?

By November 5, 2014 11 Comments

Full Question

I am deployed to Afghanistan, and our current chaplain is a Church of Christ minister. In this situation would the Protestant service offered by the minister fulfill my Sunday obligation?


Attendance at a Protestant service does not fulfill the Sunday obligation. The Catechism instructs:

The first precept [of the Church] ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts . . . by participating in the eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered (CCC 2042).

If participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, you have no obligation to attend Mass. But, in this situation:

It is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families (Code of Canon Law 1248).


  • fermin rabac says:

    Thank you so much.. I love my Catholic Faith..

  • David Schick says:

    I agree that attending a Protestant service would never fulfill Sunday obligation. But I thought i had heard that having military duty on Sundays excuses a person from that obligation. I know when I was in Afghanistan I made maybe 10 masses in 11 months, but we did not have a priest stationed where I was. Sometimes a military priest would visit or i would rotate to Bagram for a few days and then i would attend.

  • Fabian M says:

    It’s great to hear that Military priest visited the army camps..and u had access for H. Mass…d need of the hour to have military priests to serve military souls…

  • CJ says:

    Protestant services do not fulfill the Sunday obligation — okay, I understand that. But, the part where the catechism says for the faithful to “take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place” is a touch confusing to me, as most Protestant services are very “Word” focused and “prayer focused”. Wouldn’t that at least meet some kind of something? At the end of the day, though, Catholic all the way.

  • Keith says:

    CJ, as Catholics we have Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium to guide us in The Way. Listening to a Protestant Liturgy runs the risk of misinterpreting the meanings and not receiving the full depth of our faith. In addition, not all denominations use our 3 year Liturgical Cycle of Scripture Readings. Depending on how long you’re deployed, you could miss a lot.
    There are plenty of apps out there to fill any gap in your faith needs and full Sunday homilies for listening and contemplation.
    – Fellow active duty brother in Christ

  • Tom says:

    And this is yet another reason I’ll never convert to Catholicism. The unmitigated arrogance.

    • Luke says:

      The unmitigated arrogance at…what exactly? Requiring the faithful to attend the eternal sacrifice of Christ and worship God with due reverence and joy with the community of believers, and to be relieved of this obligation is circumstances make it impossible?

  • Jac says:

    What Catholics celebrate on Earth is a mystical participation in the Heavenly Liturgy — this is something I eagerly look forward to every day since my conversion 3 years ago.

  • Hector says:

    I usually ate at a protestant church,
    for need until the church kiked me out.
    I am catholic now. Experience. Thank you.

  • Margaret Adams says:

    I was an Army wife, I happened to be in the hospital and wanted to pray with a Chaplain, at the time only a Catholit priest was available, he came immediately. When I told him I was a Baptist, he said we all believed in the same God. He prayed with me as my Protestant belief. He had no problem accepting my beliefs and I had no problem with with us praying together. I believe military people are in a different position than most, if someone wants to worship, we often attended other services and I felt nothing wrong! If the word of God was preached. All military chaplains would say if we felt uncomfortable participating in a particular doctrine, there was no pressure in not participating. We were there to worship God, not particular doctrines. In 20 years I never felt as if I was doing anything wrong so long as I worshiped in the way I felt comfortable with. Catholic chaplains would say this is Catholic doctrine and any Protestants do not need to participate in certain portions of the service. Protestant Chaplains would give Catholic attendees the opportunity to worship in their Catholic doctrine, a Catholic layman would conduct a worship. We go to church to worship, I would hope the Chaplains today continue to give everyone the right to worship in the way the believe.

  • Mike James says:

    Some of the responses here display my greatest concerns with Catholicism. Having been raised in a Catholic home, I am disconcerted by the moral superiority that you seem to believe that you have. News flash, we all (as Christians) worship and serve the same God. So get off your high horses and recognize the fact that this soldier was doing their best to honor Christ.

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