During the April 19-22 meeting, they continued their deliberations about a new Lectionary -- the book containing the Scripture readings used at Mass -- to replace the current one first published in 1969.
They also sent condolences to Queen Elizabeth II following the death of her husband, Prince Philip, as well as a message of congratulations to the Queen on her 95th birthday.
In their reflection on the challenges facing the post-pandemic Church, the bishops emphasized that Sunday Mass should be restored to the center of Catholic life.
They said: “At this moment, then, we need to have in our sights the need to restore to its rightful centrality in our lives the Sunday Mass, encouraging each to take his or her place once again in the assembly of our brothers and sisters.”
“We face the task of seeking to nurture the sense of Sunday as ‘a weekly gift from God to his people,’ and something we cannot do without; to see Sunday as the soul of the week, as giving light and meaning to all the responsibilities we live out each day; to see the Sunday Eucharist as food for the unique mission with which we have been endowed.”
McMahon told journalists that the bishops of England and Wales did not have a date in mind for the restoration of the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days.
He said: “We really, really want to encourage people to come back to church for the reasons which are in ‘The Day of the Lord.’ That basically we go back to church for the love of the Eucharist, because it’s for us the source and the end of all that we do as Christians.”
“And for those who can’t do that, we don’t want to burden them with an obligation that they can’t fulfill at present, because some people are still nervous about coming out. They want to stay at home and feel safe.”
He added: “I think this approach -- a softly, softly approach, if you like -- is obviously a better one than reintroducing obligations, which is a concept that is known to Catholics but is a bit strange to some other people.”