Bishop David Malloy advised priests of the Diocese of Rockford in a June 11 letter, that the dispensation from the obligation of attending Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation (per canons 85 and 87 in the Code of Canon Law of 1983) will be lifted July 1, 2021.
Bishop Malloy granted the dispensation on March 17, 2020 at the beginning of the COVID outbreak. The unprecedented action was taken in view of the guidance of health authorities to stem the spread of the virus and was to be a short-term, provisional measure.
“Little did we know of the course and toll the virus would take on the health and well-being of our society, thus requiring a longer time of dispensation for our most vulnerable brothers and sisters in Christ,” Bishop Malloy said.
In his announcement, Bishop Malloy asked priests of the diocese to help make this full return to the Mass, “a joyful moment and one to thank God for His blessings in seeing us through the pandemic and in lessening its impact among us. It will also be a time during the Mass to pray for those who have suffered so much and even lost loved ones.”
“We must never lose the essence of our Eucharistic faith which is to meet Christ personally in the Blessed Sacrament, especially in the worthy reception of Holy Communion as part of Mass,” Bishop Malloy said.
As the dispensation is lifted, Catholics are reminded in the days and months ahead to use their consciences for any decision about not attending Mass or continuing to follow it virtually and to ask for pastoral guidance from their parish priests if needed.