Bishop Philip writes…
At the end of our Plenary Assembly, the Bishops of England and Wales issued a statement entitled “Honouring Sunday.” The bishops do not possess the authority to suspend the Sunday obligation. However, since March 2020 the bishops have sought to give guidance to the faithful on the changing conditions in which it is possible to fulfil this obligation. Conditions have clearly moved on since the state of national lockdown last year. Yet, the bishops recognise the uncertainties of the Winter ahead of us and write “At this time, we recognise that for some people there may be certain factors which hinder attendance at Sunday Mass. The pandemic is clearly not over. The risk of infection is still present. For some, there is legitimate fear in gathering together. As your bishops, we recognise that these prevailing circumstances suggest that not everyone is yet in a position to fulfil the absolute duty to attend freely Sunday Mass.” However, the bishops ask every Catholic to honestly review their situation motivated by real love which must be our personal response to Christ’s total self-offering in the Holy Eucharist.
We now encourage all Catholics to look again at the patterns which they have formed in recent months with regard to going to Mass on Sundays. This would include consideration and reflection about what we might do on Sundays, such as sports or shopping, or other leisure and social activities. This review, and the decisions which arise from it, fall to every Catholic and we trust this will be done with honesty, motivated by a real love for the Lord whom we encounter in the Mass.
To read the full statement go to themailchi.mp/ portsmouthdiocese/sunday–mass–obligation