“As Catholics, we are invited by God to gather together in community, and participate fully in the Sunday Eucharist, which is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life,’” the bishops said.
“The Sunday and Holy Day obligation is not something God asks of us out of his own necessity or need to be worshipped, but rather a gift to the faithful for our own spiritual nourishment, happiness, and eternal salvation.”
As the coronavirus pandemic swept through the United States last spring, every Catholic diocese in the country suspended the public celebration of Masses. In many areas, public Masses were restored several months later, with restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Dioceses have gradually begun reinstating the Sunday Mass obligation in recent months.
“While entering into any public space over the last year has included some risk, the safety and health protocols implemented at our parishes have proven to be extremely effective, and we are unaware of any issues of community spread happening at a public Mass,” the Colorado bishops said in their statement.
“Prudent health precautions will still be taken by every parish, but as the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us, and access to COVID-19 vaccines for those who desire to receive it has increased, the time has come that the general dispensation is no longer necessary.”
The bishops noted that the Church has always permitted those with “serious reasons” to be exempted from the obligation to attend Mass. Such serious reasons, they said, could include sickness, exposure to the coronavirus, or being or caring for someone who is high risk and unable to enter public areas. In addition, they clarified, the obligation does not apply for someone who is unable to attend Mass due to ongoing capacity limits on religious services during the pandemic.
(Story cotinues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“Anyone who isn’t able to go to Mass should continue to keep the Sabbath holy with intentional time in prayer including engagement in the readings for the day, which may be enhanced through watching a pre-recorded or livestreamed Mass and making a spiritual communion,” they said.
The bishops encouraged Catholics to pray for an end to the pandemic, for those who have suffered a loss, and for a rejuvenated faith, especially for those who have drifted from their faith during this time.
“Let us ask the Lord for a renewed spirit in every one of us: that we can emerge from this pandemic stronger and with an increased commitment to sharing the Good News and building up Christ’s Church,” they said.