Documents on flags in the sanctuary?


Are there any documents or other statements concerning the appropriateness of flying national flags in a church sanctuary?

--A Patriot in Peoria


Environment and Art in Catholic Worship, 101 discusses the inappropriateness of flags in churches, and the sanctuary, also the Order of Christian Funerals, 38 and 132. Additionally, an editorial by David Philippart in the 1991 issue of Environment & Art Letter, also gives principles for not have flags in the sanctuary. Thomas Ryan, in The Sacristy Manual, published by the Archdiocese of Chicago's Liturgical Training Publications, gives a fine pastoral discussion of their use on pages 57 and 85.

Also, the National Bishops' Conference liturgy newsletter of 1983 Vol. XIX January, has comments about the inappropriateness of the symbol of a flag in the sanctuary. In addition, Ron Krisman wrote a letter at the request of J.W. Malone and describes the norm in 4 pages of script.

Order for Christian Funerals mentions that the flag comes off of the coffin when coming into the church. This is a reminder that national identities and public service are different than our identity in Christ.

Another reason why flags may not fly in church
By Fr. Thomas Welbers, Claremont, CA
-Reprinted from Our Sunday Visitor, December 12, 2004 edition:

Another reason the US flag is not appropriate liturgical worship space comes from the respect due to the flag itself. According to the US Flag Code, whenever the flag is displayed in a public place, it should be given a place of honor, to the right of the speaker. In church, that place honor must go the symbols and furnishing proper to our worship. [What could that be, the altar? The ambo? The chair? We have too many symbolic and important places, first among them the altar.] The flag must never compete with these, yet it does no justice to the flag and its meaning merely to put it somewhere in a corner. Instead, we should be sure that the flag is well displayed in other appropriate gathering places, and there should always be an outdoor flagpole in a prominent place on the parish grounds.


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