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Sydney Catholics ordered back to 'obligatory' Mass

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Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop has told parishioners to return to “obligatory” Mass now that COVID restrictions had been lifted, but says it wants people to attend “more out of love than obedience”.

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In a letter to followers published overnight, Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said NSW’s easing of social distancing restrictions meant places of worship can have unlimited numbers, in accordance with one person per two square metres.

“Attendance at mass on those days (Sundays and Christmas) is now obligatory once again,” Archbishop Fisher wrote.

“Of course, we want people to come to mass out of love more than obedience, but love itself brings responsibilities.

“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.”

NSW announced eased social distancing restrictions on Monday as the state recorded a lengthy period without any locally-transmitted cases.

Archbishop Fisher said the restrictions, which included capping the number of people allowed to gather indoors, had hit the church hard.

“Churches were closed for a time, then reopened with only a third to half our normal congregations,” he said.

“Many joined Mass by live-streaming and some donated online. But others fell away and collections fell dramatically.”

Archbishop Fisher said there may be further coronavirus outbreaks and he encouraged prayer to bring an end to the pandemic.

-AAP

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