Mass obligation for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, revived Catholics in August


After a 16-month hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic, the obligation for Catholics in Pennsylvania to attend Mass in person will be reinstated starting next month.

“We have all felt the impact of COVID-19 as individuals and families. It was a time of acute difficulties and struggles, of separation and isolation. It has also had an impact on our lives of faith, ”Archbishop of Philadelphia Nelson Pérez said in a statement. declaration Thursday.

“As many aspects of life are now returning to normal, every Catholic bishop in Pennsylvania will reinstate the obligation to attend Mass in person on Sundays and Holy Days” beginning August 15, he said.

The Catholic Church believes that once someone is baptized into Christ, they are required to attend Mass on Sunday and on Holy Days to participate in Christ’s sacrifice and to give thanks to God.

“It’s about worship, it’s about what we owe. We are going there because of what he has done for us, ”said Father Dennis Gill, director of the Office for Divine Worship in the Archdiocese.

“Now that we can be there, we have to,” he said.

As was the case before the pandemic, the church has recognized reasons why someone cannot attend Mass in person, such as illness, health risks, care responsibilities, or an event. severe weather. Pérez’s statement notes that having serious anxiety about gathering in large crowds – as some might be after the pandemic – is a valid excuse. Those who cannot attend in person are still encouraged to tune in through an online broadcast and required to engage in prayer or scripture reading independently.

Skipping Mass just because you don’t want to attend is a sin, Gill said.

“It becomes a sin, an offense to God… if you can worship and say, ‘No, I don’t want to,’” said Gill.

“As Bishops, we welcome this moment of reestablishment of obligation for all Catholics in Pennsylvania. It is a moment to thank God again for the great gift of the Mass and of the Real Presence of Jesus in his Holy Body and Blood as well as the joy of coming together as people of faith ”, declared Pérez.

The weekly requirement was lifted and in-person services were suspended in March 2020 to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Parishes in Philadelphia and across the state have hosted live masses online and rosaries, although most Catholic churches remained open for private prayer and small celebrations of penance, baptism, funerals and weddings.

The bishops of New Jersey and Delaware lifted their dispensations last month.

In-person mass resumed in Philadelphia last summer after the state’s coronavirus restrictions were lifted, but there was no need to attend. Gill said the archdiocese has “seen a gradual increase since church attendance began,” with parishes in the suburbs seeing more consistent crowds than those in the city.

In May, Pérez launched a campaign called “Nothing compares to being there”To implore the Catholics of Philly to return to in-person services. The Archdiocese provided parishes with additional material, such as testimonies and guidelines on full participation in Mass, to help them reconnect with their parishioners and see engagement at the pre-pandemic level in September.

“The most important part of our duty is to worship God, because too often we start with ourselves and end with ourselves,” said Gill. “Yes, it’s something I have to do, but for a good reason.”

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