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July 15, 2021

Philadelphia Catholics must return to Mass starting next month, Archbishop Pérez​​ says

The obligation does not apply to people who are seriously ill or have underlying health conditions

Religion Mass
Archdiocese of Philadelphia Mass Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia lifted its obligation that Catholics attend Mass at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be reinstated Aug. 15, 2021.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia's dispensation for Roman Catholics attending Mass during the COVID-19 pandemic will expire Aug. 15.

The Archdiocese's obligation to attend Mass in person on Sundays and holy days is being reinstated alongside the seven other Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. The resumption date falls on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

With COVID-19 restrictions having been lifted across Pennsylvania, "it is again possible for the faithful to assemble for the Eucharist," Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez said Thursday.

"We have all felt the impact of COVID-19 as individuals and families," Pérez said. "It has been a time of acute hardship and struggle, of separation and isolation. It has also had an impact on our lives of faith. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has been with us throughout this challenging period and is most especially near to us when we encounter him in the Eucharist. The Eucharist offers us his healing and peace, his mercy and reconciliation. It is now time for everyone to return to the Eucharist with renewed faith and joy."

The obligation does not apply to Catholics who are seriously ill, have underlying health conditions or are anxious about attending large gatherings. It also does not apply to Catholics caring for people who cannot attend Mass in person.

Those who cannot attend Mass in person are encouraged to practice their faith by tuning into a livestream of Mass and engaging in prayer and scripture readings.

"As bishops, we welcome this moment of the reinstatement of the obligation for all Catholics in Pennsylvania," Pérez said. "This is a moment to thank God anew for the great gift of the Mass and the real presence of Jesus to us in his holy body and blood as well as the joy of gathering together as people of faith.”

The Archdiocese lifted its obligation for Catholics to attend Mass at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Later that month, the Archdiocese suspended all in-person services and pivoted to livestream broadcasts.

The last time a dispensation from attending Mass was provided to Philly Catholics came ahead of a January 2016 snowstorm that had been forecast to drop at least a foot of snow on the region.

All churches in the Archdiocese began resuming in-person Sunday Masses in June 2020, but the requirement for Catholics to attend had not been reinstated.

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