Catholics in England and Wales are being encouraged to “look again” at the activities they are doing on Sundays instead of going to Mass.
In a statement, The Bishops of England and Wales urged churchgoers to “consider and reflect” on what they might be prioritising on Sundays such as “sports, shopping or other leisure and social activities”.
It comes as many faith leaders across the UK have expressed concern about churchgoers choosing to carry on worshipping online despite all restrictions on in-person services ending.
The statement reads: “We now encourage all Catholics to look again at the patterns which they have formed in recent months with regard to going to Mass on Sundays. This would include consideration and reflection about what we might do on Sundays, such as sports or shopping, or other leisure and social activities.
“This review, and the decisions which arise from it, fall to every Catholic and we trust this will be done with honesty, motivated by a real love for the Lord whom we encounter in the Mass.”
But the bishops also recognised that for some “there is legitimate fear in gathering together” as the pandemic is not over and they acknowledged that not everyone “is yet in the position to fulfil the absolute duty to attend freely Sunday Mass.”
The statement entitled “Honouring Sunday” was issued after a Plenary Assembly of Bishops in Leeds.
They concluded: “The Sunday Mass is the very heartbeat of the Church and of our personal life of faith. We gather on the “first day of the week,” and devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42).”