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World News

Bishops urge Catholics to return to in-person Mass

by Kelly Valencia

The Catholic Bishops in England and Wales have urged believers to come back to Mass as the Covid-19 restrictions have now eased. 

In an open letter to all Catholics, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said: "Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, until the present time, we have shared with you our judgment that the situation of the last two years has meant that the Sunday Obligation has been impeded."

The Sunday Mass Obligation was dispensed with at the beginning of the pandemic and although church services have since resumed, attendance hasn't been obligatory.

But as Covid restrictions have now relaxed and most people have resumed their everyday-life activities, the bishops said it's time to reinstate the Sunday Obligation. 

"We therefore believe that the reasons which prevented Catholics from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation no longer apply."

"A beautiful hallmark of the Catholic faith is the profound desire to participate in the Holy Mass and share in the Eucharist. We do so with deep gratitude and joy," they said. 

The Eucharist "enables us to worship Almighty God, to support each other on our journey of faith, and to be a visible sign of faith in the world."

The move follows that of Catholics in Scotland that, since the beginning of 2022 reinstalled the obligation of attending Mass. 

The letter continued: "We are grateful to our clergy, religious and lay faithful who have served our parishes, schools and communities with dedication and distinction throughout this pandemic," they said. "Now we look forward with renewed faith and confidence."

Although Catholic services have been live-streamed and many have been able to follow it, the bishops said only online viewing of Mass does not fulfil a Catholic's Sunday obligation.

 "It may, however, be a source of continual spiritual comfort to those who cannot attend Mass in person, for example those who are elderly and sick, for whom the obligation does not apply," they said.

"In this context, we recognise gratefully the ministry of those who administer Holy Communion to the elderly, sick and housebound."

The letter concluded: "As the Church needs the witness of the presence of each person, so too each believer needs to journey in faith and worship with their fellow disciples. 

"Nourished by our encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus, fed with His Word and His Body and Blood in Holy Communion, and supported by the presence of each other, we receive strength week by week, to serve the Lord and glorify Him with our lives."

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