Obligation returns for Sunday Mass and Holidays

Press release

Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Sunday Mass Obligation read out at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee – by Mgr McInally

In a “Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Scotland” issued this weekend 27/28 November, Scotland’s Catholic bishops have announced that with effect from Sunday 2 January 2022 the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of obligation will be reinstated.

Th letter is read here by Mgr Patrick McInally.

The requirement was dispensed at the beginning of the pandemic and although churches opened and communal worship resumed attendance was not obligatory. In their letter which will be read at all Masses across Scotland this weekend (27/28 November) the bishops say;  “We have often been asked about reinstating the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of obligation. In our fluid situation, this is not an easy judgment to make. Thanks, however, to the effort and good sense of so many, our churches have proven to be safe places.

So, saving any serious worsening of the situation, we believe that Christmastide provides an opportune moment to restore the obligation. The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation will therefore be reinstated from Sunday 2nd January, the first of the new year.” 

The bishops’ letter states that anyone who is ill, showing symptoms of COVID, having underlying health conditions or those with responsibilities for people in need of special care are not obliged to attend and anyone in those groups can continue to participate online. The bishops go on to point out that; “online participation does not fulfil the obligation” noting that “Nothing can adequately replace actual presence.

At the heart of our Christian life is the event of the Word becoming flesh and our incorporation through the Sacraments into his Body. It’s to experience this that we come to church.” The full text of the pastoral letter is shown below.