Dear Bishop Estevez,
We, the undersigned, with all respect and humility, request that you reinstate the Sunday obligation for all Catholics in the Diocese of St. Augustine.
On March 16, 2020, you gave universal dispensation, to all Catholics in the diocese, from Sunday and holy day obligation due to fears of spreading coronavirus. It was a time of confusion and fear of the unknown with regard to how serious this virus was.
Nearly a year has gone by. We now know, based on the science of this virus, that the recovery rate for covid-19 is well over 99% for all age groups under 70, and over 94% among the those over 70 (https://www.nbc26.com/news/coronavirus/cdc-estimates-covid-19-fatality-rate-including-asymptomatic-cases). And given the rapidly declining number of both cases and deaths, surely the time has come to reinstate our obligation. Of course, those who are sick, caring for sick, those with co-morbidities that increase their risk, would continue to be dispensed, as has always been the case.
Cardinal Sarah, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship, wrote on August 15, 2020 (and approved by Pope Francis on September 3, 2020),
“It is necessary and urgent to return to the normality of Christian life, which has the church building as its home and the celebration of the liturgy, especially the Eucharist.” “As soon as is possible, however, we must return to the Eucharist with a purified heart, with a renewed amazement, with an increased desire to meet the Lord, to be with him, to receive him and to bring him to our brothers and sisters with the witness of a life full of faith, love, and hope”
In the US, numerous bishops have lifted this dispensation, some as early as last fall!
This prolonged dispensation gives the impression that Sunday and holy day worship is “not essential.” Each of us knows of many who will never return to Mass because of this mindset. Additionally, Christ came to us in the Flesh, not virtually. We need to be present, physically, at the Sacrifice. The salvation of souls is at stake. We need the obligation reinstated to strengthen our wills and understand the seriousness of the 3rd commandment-Divine Law cannot be perpetually dismissed!
The signers below represent countless others who also desire you to reinstate Sunday and holy day obligation. We pray for you to continue to be a good father to us and give us the discipline we both need and desire.
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