Archbishop Fisher lifts dispensation as restrictions ease

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Parish priest Fr James McCarthy (pictured last June) is one of the hundreds of clergy and lay leaders welcoming greater numbers to Masses from this weekend. PHOTO: Supplied

Changes across greater Sydney bring relief to parishes

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has again lifted the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass as restrictions eased following weeks of no community transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Archdiocesan vicar general Fr Gerry Gleeson advised clergy of the Archdiocese of Sydney that from Friday 12 February, with relaxed rules across the Greater Sydney region including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains, an unlimited number of people can attend Mass, provided that a one person per two metres square rule is observed.

Mask wearing in church is no longer mandatory but “encouraged” where social distancing is not possible, he said. Congregational singing is still not permitted for indoor Masses and choirs are limited to five people.

Mask wearing in church is no longer mandatory but “encouraged”

Now that the two metres square rule has been reinstated, Archbishop Anthony has lifted the dispensation from our Sunday Mass obligation,” Fr Gleeson said in a statement. The Catholic faithful are once again obliged to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation when this is reasonably possible.”

While the changes mean that advance bookings for Masses will no longer be required in most parishes, and churches could remain open for private prayer, records of attendees still must be kept for contact tracing purposes.

Fr Gleeson said that those who are of great age, have health conditions or are otherwise anxious about the risks of COVID-19 are free to remain at home and find another way of keeping the Sabbath holy.

Gyms are excluded from the relaxed rules, while masks remain mandatory on public transport, in taxis and similar vehicles.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wanted to “continue to give the community and businesses the confidence to move forward, especially with the expansion of the two square metre rule which will allow most venues to double their capacity”. 

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