Seder meal

Question from E. C. on 4/23/2008:

This past Lent our parish hosted a Seder meal in the church hall (I believe it's the third or fourth year they've done so). I ran across a commentary where the author stated it is "disrespectful for Catholics to have a Seder meal." Is is wrong for our parish to re-enact this event?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 4/23/2008:
E. C.--

The author you quote apparently did not distinguish between private devotions held by private groups of Catholics (e.g., families) on private property (e.g., homes, rented halls) and unapproved private devotions held on Church property (e.g., parish or diocesan buildings).

The Seder is not an approved private devotion for public Church use and it can be imprudent to host such an event on parish or diocesan property because it gives the appearance of Church approval where such approval does not exist. Given that some Jews quite understandably resent Christian use of their sacred liturgy, hosting such events on Church property can needlessly strain relations between the Church and the Jewish people.

As for individual Catholics hosting Seders as a private devotion on private property, there is debate over whether a Christian Seder should be a Christian devotion, but the USCCB has said that such an event "can have educational and spiritual value" (source). If it is to be done though, I can only recommend that it be done with respect for the facts that the Seder primarily belongs to the Jewish people, that it should be treated with dignity, and that it should not be used to proselytize inappropriately.

Recommended reading:

What's the difference between proselytism and evangelism?

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers

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