Hence, the assistance itself must be really indifferent, that is, it must be a merely passive presence without any active participation in the service. Examples: A person who stands in the rear of a Quaker meeting house as an onlooker assists passively; but one who sits quietly among the others present, as if in meditation, assists actively. A person who sits in a pew during a revival in order to see what is going on, assists passively; but, if he joins with the congregation in bowing, groaning, etc., he assists actively.
The evil effect that may result from assistance (such as scandal and danger of perversion) must not be prior to the good effect; otherwise, evil would be done for the sake of good. Examples: Titus, a non-Catholic, goes to Mass as a. spectator, with his Catholic friend Balbus. He then asks Balbus to assist as a spectator at the services of his denomination, and thus see for himself that the latter is better. Balbus, in order to be courteous, consents. Here Balbus aims to show politeness, which is good, but the means he uses, namely, the impression he gives that he is not convinced of the superiority of his own religion, is bad.
The evil effect (i.e., remote danger of perversion, unavoidable scandal) must not be intended or approved, but only permitted. Example: Caius, a Catholic public official, has to attend funerals and weddings in Protestant churches as a mark of the public respect for notable persons. He knows that a few will take scandal at his action, but he wishes only to do his duty as an official, and not to offend anyone (see on Scandal).
The cause of assistance must be in proportion to the kind of assistance. Hence, a greater reason is required for assistance on several occasions than on one, for assistance at infidel than at heretical services, for assistance at the primary than at the secondary act of worship, for assistance by a priest than for assistance by a layman, etc. Example: Graver reason would be necessary to justify assistance at a non-Catholic funeral, if there were signs of anti-Catholicism manifested (e.g., flower designs and regalia of a hostile sect placed on the coffin), than if the service contained nothing offensive.
Cases of communication in false sacrificial rites are as follows:(a) Active participation is had in such acts as the slaying and offering of victims, the burning of incense before idols, the eating of sacrificial banquets; (b) Passive participation is had when one merely watches the rite of sacrifice without taking any part therein.
Cases of communication in the Sacrifice of the Mass are as follows: (a) Active participation is had in such acts as taking the part of deacon in a schismatical Mass, assisting at a schismatical Mass with the intention of hearing Mass formally (i.e., of offering it with the priest). If on Sunday, one is where there is only a schismatical church, one is excused from the obligation of hearing Mass, and may not hear Mass in that church (Holy Office, December 5, 1608; August 7, 1704). (b) Passive participation is had when one is present merely as a spectator, kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, but giving no other signs of religious devotion. This is permissible under the conditions mentioned above (see 966), if there is no scandal or danger of perversion (Holy Office, April 24, 1894).
Cases of participation in the Sacraments or sacramentals, real or reputed, are as follows: (a) Active participation takes place when one receives a Sacrament from a non-Catholic minister, or offers one's child to receive a Sacrament from such a minister, or contracts marriage in the presence of such a minister, or acts as sponsor at a non-Catholic baptism or confirmation or as the religious witness at a non-Catholic marriage, or answers in public non-Catholic prayers, or takes ashes blessed by schismatics. (b) Passive participation is had when one merely looks on at the administration of a Sacrament or sacramental by a non-Catholic minister, without signs of approval or union in what is being done.
There are certain cases that seem to be active participations in Sacraments with non-Catholics, and yet are permitted by the Code. In reality, however, there is no active communication in those cases.
Canons 886 and 905 allow the faithful to receive communion and absolution according to a Rite different from their own, so that one who belongs to the Latin Rite may lawfully receive in Communion a Host consecrated according to the Greek Rite, or go to confession to an Oriental priest. But in these Canons there is question of different Rites within the Catholic Church, not of those of non-Catholics.
Canons 742 and 882 allow those who are in danger of death to receive Baptism and absolution from an heretical or schismatical minister, and theologians apply the same principle to Extreme Unction and the Viaticum. But there is no communication in non-Catholic ceremonies in these cases, for the Sacraments belong to the Catholic Church, and for the sake of the dying she authorises non-Catholic ministers to act as her representatives, provided there is no scandal or danger of perversion.
Cases of participation in non-sacramental rites are as follows:
Oaths and Vows.-Participation is active when one swears in words or by other signs which, according to local usage, manifest belief in the creed of some sect; it is not active, when the manner of the oath does not signify adherence to a false creed. Example. If one is required to swear, by touching or kissing the non-Catholic Bible, as a sign of approval of Protestantism or Masonry, one may not consent. But, if the Government presents a non-Catholic Bible with no thought of Protestantism, there is no approval of Protestantism in the one who swears on that Bible, although, if the custom is not general, there might be scandal if no protest were made. A Catholic, may bring his own Bible with him, or ask for a copy of the Catholic Bible.
Services - Participation is active when one marches in an Anglican procession, plays the organ or sings at YMCA services, joins in the prayers or responses offered in a Protestant church, etc. (Holy Office, July 6, 1889).
Participation is passive if one looks on during a rare visit, Protestant services, or if one is obliged to attend non-Catholic services habitually, not as a profession of faith, but as a matter of civil duty or of domestic discipline, as happens with soldiers or with inmates of public institutions. Participation is not active if one adores the Blessed Sacrament carried in a schismatical Procession which one meets by chance and unavoidably. Examples: Titus belongs to the honorary guard of a state ruler, and has to accompany the latter to non-Catholic services on certain state occasions. Balbus is tutor in a non-Catholic family, and is expected to take his charges to their church and back home on Sunday.
Passive participation scarcely differs from passive assistance (e.g., to act as witness at a marriage), or such as carries with it no recognition as an official of the Church (e.g., to act as substitute or temporary organist). Hence, the Church has permitted this kind of participation in particular cases, when the authorities decided that there was urgent necessity And no scandal. Examples: Moralists hold that, when a heretic or schismatic has been designated as sponsor at Baptism and cannot be refused without grave offence, he may be allowed to act as witness. The Holy Office has also declared that heretics should not be used as witnesses at marriage, but may be tolerated as such by the Ordinary, when there is a grave reason and no scandal (August 18, 1891) ; that a non-Catholic organist may be employed temporarily, if it is impossible to secure one who is a Catholic, and no scandal is caused (February 23, 1820) ; that in certain special circumstances girls belonging to a schismatical sect might be allowed to sing with the Catholics at church functions, especially at Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (January 25, 1906).
Proximate participation is the exercise of functions connected with a sacred rite (e.g., to act as server at Mass), or that imply a recognition of the religion of the one who participates e.g., to act as representative of some sect at a funeral and receive liturgical honours). The Church has always refused to tolerate this kind of participation. Examples: Non-Catholics may not act as sponsors at Baptism or Confirmation under pain of invalidity of sponsorship (Canons 765, 795), nor chant the Office in choir (Holy Office, June 8, 1859), nor be employed as singers of the liturgical music (Holy Office, May 1, 1889), nor carry torches or lights in church ceremonies (Holy Office, November 20 1850). Likewise, non-Catholics may not become members of Catholic confraternities, nor assist at Catholic services as official representatives of some sect or sectarian society.
NB. PRIVATE PRAYER WITH NON-CATHOLICS NEED NOT BE SINFUL, BUT IS NOT ENCOURAGED BY THE CHURCH AND THE EXAMPLE OF THE SAINTS. IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN BY GOD’S LAW IF THE PRAYER CONTAINS THEOLOGICAL ERROR..