Some background to maybe keep you reading, before I get into why I think there should be no flags. My dad served for almost 30 years in the US Air Force. I server for 13 years in the USAF Reserves. I have lost friends and do whatever I can to support our military. I was even the president of the Randolph AFB Air Power Community Council. I served proudly and continue to show support whenever I can. I am also the one that stops and stands during the national anthem every time I hear it. If I can’t stand, I will stop talking. I am a proud vet and American.
That said, I do not believe that flags belong in the Sanctuary of a church.
First, let me define sanctuary in the Catholic sense. In the front of the Church at the first step up you begin to enter the Sanctuary. If there are no steps, it should not be visible when focused on Altar or Ambo. I don’t mind a flag in the body or back of church, but not in the sacred space where the sacrifice for the mass occurs.
First and foremost, what we are doing at our liturgies is so important that it needs to be our only focus. The flag remains a powerful symbol and conjures up many things not related to the transformative act of Eucharist that we celebrate together. Our focus my be laser tight on what we are doing at the altar.
Second is that our worship is open to all people of all countries and say for a former USSR member seeing the US flag could have very mixed feelings. All are welcome to the celebration and nothing should inhibit their full participation in the celebration. What about a family that just lost a loved one in a war, and the last flag they saw was draped on their loved ones casket. Is that what they need to be reminded of at Mass right next to the Altar?
So not no flags anywhere, just away from altar and Ambo.
I am not alone in this, but it is such a hot topic the US Bishops have been wishy washy at best. I wrote this in a bulletin once and you would have thought that I was asking for everyone’s first born.
Just my opinion, no flags in the sanctuary. On the 4th of July, line the parking lot, have them at doors and even sing a patriotic hymn, but please don’t have them in a place sharing the focus of the Mass.