The obligation to attend Sunday Mass is being reinstated across Catholic parishes across Lanarkshire.

In a “Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Scotland”, bishops across the country, including Bishop Joseph Toal of the Motherwell Diocese announced the mandatory requirement to be physically present at church on Sundays and Holydays of obligation will be reintroduced from January 2, 2022.

It was dispensed at the beginning of the pandemic and although churches opened and communal worship resumed attendance was not obligatory.

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In their letter which will be read at all Masses across Scotland this weekend (November 27/28) the bishops say: “We have often been asked about reinstating the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of obligation. In our fluid situation, this is not an easy judgment to make.

"Thanks, however, to the effort and good sense of so many, our churches have proven to be safe places.

"So, saving any serious worsening of the situation, we believe that Christmastide provides an opportune moment to restore the obligation.

"The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation will therefore be reinstated from Sunday. January 2, the first of the new year.”

The bishops’ letter states that anyone who is ill, showing symptoms of COVID, having underlying health conditions or those with responsibilities for people in need of special care are not obliged to attend and anyone in those groups can continue to participate online.

The bishops go on to point out that "online participation does not fulfil the obligation”.

The letter adds: "Nothing can adequately replace actual presence.

"At the heart of our Christian life is the event of the Word becoming flesh and our incorporation through the Sacraments into his Body. It’s to experience this that we come to church.”

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