From this weekend, Catholics living in Wisconsin will once again be required to go to Mass on Sunday, provided they are healthy and not at risk for coronavirus.
“With new measures now firmly in place to promote and preserve the safety of those attending public Mass, it is with elation that the bishops of Wisconsin have announced plans to end the dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation in September 2020,” said a statement from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, released August 31.
The Wisconsin Catholic Conference speaks on behalf of the 10 current and retired bishops, auxiliary bishops, and archbishops of the state’s five Catholic dioceses.
The bishops noted that “in recent months, dioceses and parishes throughout the state have been able to resume public worship by adhering to strict safety standards and by restricting access to services for those who are symptomatic, sick, or at risk of serious illness,” yet there was still no obligation in place to actually go to Mass.
Despite the restored obligation, not everyone will be required to go to Mass, and who is still exempt from the obligation will be up to the individual dioceses. The dioceses will separately announce when they have lifted the dispensation, said the release, and the dioceses will clarify in these proclamations who is not required to attend Mass.
“As pastors, the bishops of Wisconsin encourage all who are healthy to seek the healing presence of Christ the Bread of Life through a return to Mass,” said the statement.
The Sunday obligation has been dispensed throughout Wisconsin, as has been in most states, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March.
While most areas have resumed some form of public worship in recent months, only the Diocese of Sioux Falls in South Dakota had, so far, lifted the dispensation and is requiring healthy Catholics to attend Mass.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.”
Failure to do so, without a “serious reason,” is considered to be a mortal sin.