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Dear catholic.com visitors: This Catholic Answers website, with all its free resources, is the world’s largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. We receive no funding from the institutional Church and rely entirely on your generosity to sustain this website with trustworthy, accessible content. If every visitor this month donated $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. If you’ve never made a gift, now is the time. Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar this week only. Thanks and God bless.

As a Catholic, may I witness my grandson’s Lutheran first communion?

Question:

My husband and I are Catholic; our daughter and her family are Lutheran. Her son is now going to make his first holy communion but at a Lutheran church. Is this acceptable, and are we as grandparents and Catholics allowed to attend his first communion at a Lutheran church?

Answer:

We could not recommend that you attend such an event since Lutheran churches do not have a valid priesthood and thus do not have a sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. While Lutherans who take communion in their churches in good faith may be blessed by God for their attempts to please him, in fact their community rejected the priesthood at the time they broke away from the Catholic Church, and so their ministers do not have the power validly to celebrate the Eucharist.

As a result, your attendance at the event in question would seem to imply that you recognize or endorse the idea that your grandson is actually receiving further Christian initiation by receiving the Eucharist (one of the sacraments of initiation). That is a message you must not send as it would constitute a form of false witness to your family and to your grandson.

Matters would be different if the sacrament were valid—for example, if he were being baptized or married in the Lutheran church (those two sacraments being valid among Lutherans) or if he were receiving Communion in a church that has a valid Eucharist (such as the Greek or Russian Orthodox churches).

But to attend a non-Catholic ceremony that one knows to be invalid—whether it be a baptismal ceremony, a marriage ceremony, or a first communion ceremony—would be to send the wrong message. It would be better, if more painful, to say, “We know that this is event is meaningful to you, but we cannot attend.”

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