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All Roman Catholics across the Springfield diocese are obligated to attend Mass in person on Sundays and holy days of obligation starting this weekend, said Bishop Thomas John Paprocki.

Paprocki's decision comes as Illinois Friday moves into Phase 5, the final step of the Restore Illinois plan.

That means churches can celebrate Masses and other functions without any capacity restrictions.

Since April 11, a particular dispensation had been in place in the diocese in which only people in certain categories, such as those older than 65, were not obligated to attend Sunday Mass.

Prior to April 11, a full general dispensation stretching back to March 2020 had been in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Catholics who are ill or may have come in contact with someone with COVID-19 are excused and do not need a dispensation from attending Mass. Catholics who believe they should continue to be dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass should speak to their parish priest.

"A dispensation by its very nature is to cease when the reason for the dispensation ceases," Bishop Paprocki noted in his column in the Catholic Times, the diocese's newspaper. "It is good that our churches can again be opened to full capacity. In fact, we have already seen increasing numbers in our churches over the past couple months, as the public health threat has receded.

"I pray that those who have not done so will return to full, active participation in the Mass."

Paprocki also said that in the fall he would resume visits around the diocese, which is comprised of 129 parishes in 28 counties over central Illinois.

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This article originally ran on pantagraph.com.

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