Expert Answer Forum

U.S. Flag displayed in the worship area of the church QUESTION from Dan Lange May 2, 1999
Recently, several of the older members of our church who are veterans complained about the fact that we no longer allow the US Flag to be displayed inside our catholic church. The explanation given was that it was not permitted because liturgical law did not permit it. Liturgical law states that nothing relating to State could be displayed in the worship area. Is there something that I can get a copy of to show those who are concerned so that I have more than just what someone has told me. ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on May 3, 1999
Dear Dan, Thanks for your question. The General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM) has a section addressing altar furnishings and never mentions flags. The other liturgical documents are also silent when it comes to national flags being in the sanctuary. Consequently it is correct to say that the liturgical documents do not allow for a national (secular) flag to be displayed in the sanctuary, although they do not specifically ban the practice either. On the other hand there is a long standing practice of displaying different kinds of banners in the sanctuary that convey one idea or another. Certainly the flag is a banner that conveys the idea of national unity and serves to remind us of the ideals on which our country was founded. The safest course would be to display the flag somewhere in the church but outside the sanctuary, but as long as it doesn't distract from worship I won't lose any sleep over it's location. I hope this helps. John Miskell Back to Index Page

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