Washington D.C., May 26, 2021 / 16:02 pm
Two more U.S. bishops have invited Catholics back to Mass, following other dioceses which have lifted dispensations from the Sunday obligation.
“St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, used to beg his people to keep the faith and not miss Mass because he feared they would separate themselves from God for all eternity,” Bishop Jerry Vincke of the Diocese of Salina, Kansas, wrote to Catholics. “I want each one of you to go to heaven.”
Vincke’s May 20 letter is split into 12 sections, each dedicated to highlighting the importance of how the faithful should approach the liturgy. He began his letter announcing he would be lifting the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, beginning on the weekend of May 22-23. The general dispensation in the diocese began on March 17, 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic spread in the United States.
The Bishop noted that a dispensation still exists for Catholics with “valid reasons,” which include being ill or elderly. He mentioned that those who are unable to attend Mass because of extenuating circumstances, such as travel or work, must seek a dispensation from their pastor.
Bishop Vincke apologized to any faithful “that were hurt by the decision to close Masses to the public,” for the six weeks in the spring of 2020 that public Masses were suspended due to the pandemic. A Mass broadcast online, he said, can never substitute for attending Mass in-person.
“It is part of the very nature of our faith that we have a personal and in-person encounter with Christ through His Church,” he wrote.
Next to the Diocese of Salina, the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph launched a new campaign “Come Home to Communion” on May 24. Bishop James Johnston Jr. of Kansas City-Saint Joseph is inviting Catholics back to Mass, lifting the general dispensation for the Sunday obligation effective on June 1, 2021.
In its campaign, the diocese used billboards, social media, a website and online tool kits for the diocese’s 98 parishes and missions to reach Catholics.