“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.
“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.