Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich has announced the end of the general dispensation from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass. The allowance for Catholics to not attend weekly services in person was initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now the archbishop says it’s time to get back in the pews.
Cardinal Cupich’s letter, provided by the parish of Our Lady of the Wayside, began by noting how hard the pandemic was on the faithful, especially those of the younger generation:
“Exactly in that moment when we truly needed supportive relationships with one another, we found ourselves separated. Sadly, this included the relationships and connections that we have in and through the Church.”
The prelate expressed his pride in the collective response of the archdiocese and the faithful in response to the unique challenges presented by the pandemic. He noted that the feedback for efforts to keep the faithful connected – such as broadcast services and prayer lines established to reach out to those in need – has been nothing but positive.
These services will not be abandoned by the archdiocese, as Cardinal Cupich noted that there are still some in vulnerable positions, in particular the elderly and the immune-compromised, who may not be ready to return to Mass in person. The archbishop promised that he will continue to broadcast weekly Mass on ABC for those who need it.
“But for the rest of us, I have decided, in consultation with my advisors, to lift the general dispensation from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass as we begin a new Church year on the First Sunday of Advent, November 26-27.”
Cardinal Cupich wrote that he would like the first week of Advent to be a “fresh start” for Catholics to come together as a “community of faith that gathers to worship God.” To this end, he has instructed all the parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago to begin Mass with the traditional lighting of the Advent wreath.
Furthermore, parishioners within the archdiocese will renew their baptismal vows after the homily. This will be done in order to acknowledge that we “owe our obligation to participate in Sunday Mass to God but also to each other.” The common profession of faith and of the desire to turn from sin will conclude with “a sprinkling rite with the waters of baptism.”
“Let this occasion of our renewal of faith and life, which we all so much want, provide us with a fresh start as we recommit ourselves to worship God and to be supportive of each other week after week as we gather around the Table of the Lord to be nourished and renewed,” Cardinal Cupich concluded.