Chicago: The Late Return of the Sunday Obligation

November 16, 2022

After more than a year and a half of suspending the Sunday Mass obligation, Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago has asked his flock to find their way back to Sunday Mass.

“Dear Brothers, Cardinal Cupich is lifting the general dispensation from the obligation to participate in Sunday Mass that was put into effect at the beginning of the pandemic,” says an internal email sent by the Archdiocese’s vicar general - Bishop Robert Casey. Priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago have learned that Sunday Mass will become mandatory again, beginning the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, 2022.

The least we can say is that this measure has been long overdue. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles lifted the dispensation from the Sunday obligation on June 19, 2021. Likewise, the dioceses of Tucson, Arizona; Wichita, Kansas; Lansing, Michigan; Des Moines, Iowa; Santa Rosa, California; and Laredo, Texas began lifting their exemptions in the spring and summer of 2021.

Most recently, on March 20, 2022, the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas finally followed suit, still ahead of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, which waited until April 17.

However, the high prelate who presides over the destiny of the Archdiocese of Chicago is not strict in liturgical matters. Certainly, he does not hide from belonging to the most progressive wing of the American episcopate: we know his openness to the sacramental communion of Catholic personalities who openly support the abortion policy of the Biden administration, and we remember again the “lion dance” which took place during a Mass he was celebrating on the occasion of the Chinese New Year, in January 2020.

But if the Archdiocese of Chicago is renowned for its laxity in favor of liturgical innovations, it is no less noted for the exemplary docility with which it hastened to apply the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. For example, on Christmas 2021, he stated that beginning on August 1, 2022, the celebration of public Masses would be suspended at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Chicago, the American headquarters of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. On that day, he also prohibited the celebration of traditional Latin Masses on the first Sunday of each month, at Christmas, during the Triduum, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday.

Cardinal Cupich was recently rewarded for his zeal by his appointment as a member of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, headed by Cardinal Arthur Roche.

To honor the announced resumption of the Sunday obligation, the e-mail quoted above “asks the priests to lead their parishes in a renewal of their baptismal promises after the homily and in place of the Nicene Creed,” on the first Sunday of Advent. The next few weeks will tell how many sheep will find their way home on Sunday.