SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Diocese of Springfield announced that all Catholics across the diocese will be obligated to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation starting Sunday, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The announcement ends the dispensation from the obligations put in place as a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Individuals that believe they should continue to be dispensed from the obligation should speak with their parish priest, according to the diocese's release. Those who are ill or who may have come in contact with a COVID-19 patient will be excused from the obligation without need for dispensation.
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield said the very nature of a dispensation is to cease when the original reason for the need has diminished or ended.
"In recent weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 has continued to decrease dramatically," Paprocki said. "In light of these encouraging trends, government officials announced that the state of Illinois would enter Phase 5 starting Friday, which means that ‘businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks, and seated-spectator venues, among others, will be able to operate at full capacity for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.’
"Clearly, the full reopening of secular society means that the time has come for the Church as well to withdraw all remaining particular dispensations from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation."
Paprocki said the last few months have already seen increasing numbers in the churches. The general dispensation from the attending services was removed and a particular dispensation for parishioners aged 65 and over was granted to prevent COVID spread among the most at-risk among the population.
"It is good that our churches can again be opened to full capacity," Paprocki said. "I pray that those who have not done so will return to full, active participation in the Mass. It is essential to be physically present celebrating with the community of faith and receiving the real presence of our Lord into our hearts in the holy Eucharist."