COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – Bishop Michael Sheridan has apologized for remarks by his assistant that Roman Catholics shouldn’t attend Protestant worship services because they could "confuse" some Catholics.
Sheridan’s executive assistant, Peter Howard, also told The Gazette of Colorado Springs this week that Catholic participation in Protestant services denigrates the Catholic faith. He made similar comments in an Oct. 7 article in the diocesan newspaper.
In a letter regarding Howard’s comments to The Gazette, Sheridan said Howard is free to express his views but said he doesn’t agree with them.
Nevertheless, I am deeply sorry for any hurt or insult that has been experienced, and I humbly ask that all men and women of good will accept my apology," wrote Sheridan, who last year suggested that those who vote for Catholic politicians who contradict church positions should refrain from taking Communion.
Some of the diocese’s 130,000 Catholics attend both Protestant and Catholic services. New Life Church, a large church led by National Association of Evangelical president Ted Haggard, is believed to attract thousands of Catholics every weekend. Howard’s column in the diocesan newspaper, entitled "Why Not Attend New Life?" was meant to address that.
Such ‘active participation’ in a Protestant liturgical service, therefore, acts contrary to our faith which professes fundamentally different beliefs in critical ecclesiological and theological areas," Howard wrote.
The Rev. Karl Useldinger, diocesan chancellor and judicial vicar, said the Catholic church allows its adherents to participate in other Christian services as long as they don’t take part in another church’s sacraments and continue to attend Catholic Mass.
Michael Ciletti, deacon for St. Francis of Assisi Parish, said Howard was "dead wrong" in his column.
I think to have a column like that sends the wrong kind of message," he said. "I think it’s an insult."
Not an insult, but a statement of fact. While it is true canonically Catholic can attend Protestant services as long as they don’t participate in Communion, it is a matter of prudence of doing so and making sure that it does not pose a problem to their Catholic faith. Of course with their services also on Sunday they would have to make sure they also attend Mass. This might be necessary for those in a mixed marriage, but not really recommend for others. Mix one part poor catechesis and one part lively entertainment style Protestant worship services and you get an ex-Catholic. A recipe that has worked well for denominations that are often made up of a large part of ex-Catholics.
The About page for New Life Church shows a guitarist sitting down surrounded by guitar effects so I guess it means that they have "sound doctrine."