Diocese of Allentown calls Catholics back to pews, keeps watch on delta variant

Written by on July 23, 2021

Diocese of Allentown calls Catholics back to pews, keeps watch on delta variant

By Megan Frank

July 23, 2021

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

After a 16-month hiatus, Pennsylvania Catholics are required to attend Mass in person.

The Diocese of Allentown says it’s welcoming parishioners back to the pews, while keeping an eye on coronavirus cases. 

In a letter to Catholics in the Lehigh Valley, Allentown Bishop Alfred Schlert wrote: 

“Vaccination rates are rising, and nearly all coronavirus restrictions have been lifted. Life is starting to return to normal as people feel comfortable enough to share a meal in a restaurant, to go shopping, to attend sporting events, and to socialize with others. As these other things in life return to normal, it also is time for us to resume our normal lives as faithful Catholics.”

Catholics are expected to return for weekly Mass and holy days of obligation, like Christmas and All Saints Day. 

For people who are unable to physically attend, online services will still be available. 

“They will continue,” says Paul Wirth, spokesman for the Diocese of Allentown. “They bring great hope and comfort to people who are shut-ins, people in prison, people who are ill. But, for the vast majority of people, that’s not the way to attend Mass in the Catholic church. You need to do that in person.”

Wirth says there are a few exceptions.

“It’s always been the case that you can be excused from Mass if you’re ill, if you think you were exposed to a contagious disease or the bishop has said if you have extreme anxiety about gathering in groups,” says Wirth.

If coronavirus cases rise in the region, Wirth says the diocese will follow state and local health guidelines. 

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