Mass Dispensation to End in Some Dioceses

Many dioceses across the United States have resumed public celebration of the Holy Mass within parishes. But since the obligation to attend Mass had been temporarily dispensed several months ago, few had made moves to resume the Sunday Mass obligation for healthy Catholics. Until now.

On August 17, the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota lifted the Sunday Mass dispensation. Catholics who are not within high-risk categories for the COVID-19 virus are now required to attend Sunday Mass. Those who are ill or must care for someone who is ill are exempt, and social distancing and sanitizing measures remain in place to prevent the spread of disease.

In a pastoral letter, Bishop Donald DeGrood of Sioux Falls said, “If one wishes to avoid attending Sunday Mass in person due to significant fear or some other serious reason, the Church teaches us that we must carefully discern whether the fear is morally justifiable, or whether such fear is inordinate (not reasonable) and, therefore, not based on a prudent examination of reality.”

On August 31, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference announced that Mass dispensation across the state of Wisconsin would end in September 2020. The Archbishop or Bishop of each individual diocese will announce the exact date for the dispensation’s expiration.

The Wisconsin Catholic Conference is made up of current and former bishops of the five Wisconsin dioceses—the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Diocese of Madison, Diocese of Green Bay, Diocese of La Crosse, and Diocese of Superior.

The Diocese of Madison announced that the suspension of Sunday Mass obligation would be lifted beginning September 27. At the time of publication, the other four Wisconsin dioceses had not yet announced details about lifting the Mass dispensation.

Bishop Donald Hying of Madison wrote, “For Catholics, the celebration of Sunday Eucharist is the heart and center of who we are as children of God. It is the source and summit of the Christian life. Participating in the sacrifice of the Mass, we hear the Word and receive the Eucharist. We need the very real and sacred nourishment of the Mass, and as good and pious as watching Mass at home and making a spiritual communion has been for many these months of quarantine, this can never substitute for the efficacy of participating in even one celebration of the Eucharist.”