Expert Answer Forum

Flags QUESTION from Pete September 8, 1999
What authority is there for whether or not it is permissable to have the Vatican and American flags displayed in the sanctuary? I was under the impression that it was allowed, but recently a member of our parish was told by the DRE that it was NOT permitted. I do not have strong feelings one way or the other but would like to know what controlling authority there may be on this issue. Thank you. ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on September 8, 1999
Dear Pete, There's a long standing practice of displaying different kinds of banners in the sanctuary that convey one idea or another. The flag is a banner that conveys the idea of national unity and reminds us of the ideals on which our country was founded. When I'm traveling and visit a new church, the first thing I do is look for the Vatican flag and Tabernacle to make sure I'm in the right place. The General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM) has a section addressing altar furnishings but doesn't specifically mention flags and the other liturgical documents are also silent when it comes to national flags being in the sanctuary. The DRE therefore is correct to say that the liturgical documents do not allow for a national flag to be displayed in the sanctuary, nor do they specifically forbid the practice either. The safest course is to display the flag outside the sanctuary, but as long as it doesn't distract from worship, I'm not going lose any sleep over the location. In Christ, John Miskell Back to Index Page

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