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Requirement to return to Mass postponed in the Diocese of Dallas

Publish Date: August 10, 2021


In light of the recent surge in COVID cases and concern about the spread of the Delta variant, Bishop Edward Burns has postponed reinstating the requirement for Catholics to attend Mass in person in the Diocese of Dallas. The dispensation which waived this requirement had been scheduled to end on Sunday, August 15, 2021. Masses will continue to take place; however, the obligation to attend remains lifted.  

According to Bishop Burns the decision will be reviewed frequently as more information becomes available.  “This decision has not been made lightly as we all desire to get beyond the ongoing effects of this pandemic.  We will continue to monitor this situation closely and as soon as we are safely able to do so, we will get back to normal.”

Bishop Burns went on to remind those who decide to attend Mass in-person that masks are expected to be worn, especially in Dallas County. 




In March of 2020, all Catholics of the Diocese of Dallas were dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation (canon 1247) as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

On July 15, 2021, I announced that this dispensation would be lifted on August 15, 2021. Unfortunately, in light of current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, I am delaying the lifting of that dispensation and so hereby revoke the decree of July 15, 2021.

Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation (canon 1247) as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic remains in effect until it is revoked by me or my successor at a future date.

Additionally, the requirements of the Updated Phase 3 Decree, issued on April 21, 2021, remain in effect, especially the following:

  • As pastors have had many months working through the pandemic and are best able to determine the needs and concerns of their parishes, it is left to the judgment of the pastors to make decisions concerning the following:
    • Maximum capacity requirements for Mass or other gatherings in parishes. While there is no diocesan-wide capacity requirement (either minimum or maximum), nor is there any requirement to leave every other row empty during Mass, pastors should establish a space (either a separate Mass time or a separated space in the church) that provides a fully socially-distanced environment for those with concerns about gathering.
    • Masking and other sanitary policies, with the expectation that masks be worn out of charity for others, especially in Dallas County, but parishes are not to single out or draw attention to those who are not wearing masks at Mass and other liturgical celebrations.
    • The frequency, gathering and seating requirements for any other event at parishes; pastors must remain mindful of the health concerns of their parishes and of the need to avoid unnecessarily large groupings of people.

Given on August 10, 2021 in the Diocese of Dallas.

Most Reverend Edward J. Burns
Bishop of Dallas

Gregory Caridi

View Decree - August 10, 2021


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