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Boston Archdiocese Reinstating Sunday Mass Obligation; 'Increasingly Safe For Our Catholic People'

BOSTON (CBS) -- Catholics in eastern Massachusetts will be expected to attend Mass in person again, beginning Father's Day weekend. Boston Archdiocese leader Cardinal Sean O'Malley has announced the reinstatement of the Sunday Mass obligation.

"Aware that the opportunity to participate in Sunday Mass is increasingly available and increasingly safe for our Catholic people, we are joining dioceses in the Boston Province (Boston, Fall River, Springfield, Manchester, and Portland) in lifting the dispensation of the Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligation, effective the weekend of June 19 and 20, 2021," O'Malley said.

The dispensation from the obligation began in March 2020, when people were encouraged to watch Mass from home on TV or streaming as COVID took hold.  O'Malley said Catholic teachings stress the importance of going to church and receiving the Eucharist.

"Therefore, it is with great confidence and trust in the Lord that we reinstate this Sunday Mass obligation," he said.

Anyone who is sick or has recently been exposed to COVID, as well as those who have not yet been able to be vaccinated due to their age or a health condition, is exempt from the obligation.

When Massachusetts lifted its COVID restrictions last month, the Boston Archdiocese also dropped face mask and social distancing requirements at church, allowing for maskless singing and for parishioners to fill every pew.

"To all of those who have not been able to be with us during this last year, we look forward to welcoming you back to the celebration of the Mass," O'Malley said.

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