When the latest pandemic protocols were announced, I shared that the Dispensation from the Obligation to Attend Mass would remain in place but would be continually evaluated as cases continued to drop and vaccinations became available for more of our population. After considering the progress that has been made, and since our current protocols allow for the full capacity of our churches, I will lift the Dispensation on Saturday, July 31, 2021.
The lifting of the Dispensation means that the vast majority of Catholics are to now return to in-person celebration of Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. As was the case even before the pandemic, those whose illness, age, or status as caregiver impede their ability to attend Mass continue to be excused. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to it should also remain home for the duration as indicated by health officials.
Time and again, the Church has boldly declared that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. As the family of God, our visible presence at Mass gives witness to our unity with God and one another.
The use of masks at all church activities is prudent and encouraged during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. For the fully vaccinated, the use of masks will be optional. Individuals not fully vaccinated are required to continue using a mask. The use of masks must continue to be observed by priests, deacons, and all liturgical ministers, including altar servers. When distributing Holy Communion, the clergy and extraordinary ministers must use a mask. The use of masks demonstrates the Church’s concern for the safety and health of ministers and those gathered in the assembly.
While the pandemic is not over, the current trend seems to indicate that we will not eradicate the coronavirus in its totality any time soon. As we look to establish a “new normal,” we must be clear that there is no substitute for our communal celebration of the Eucharist where we enter into the Paschal Mystery, and there, encounter the God of love and healing.
Todo Con Amor,
Most Reverend James A. Tamayo, D.D.