Catholic bishops lift Covid-19 restrictions, urge all to return to Mass

15 September 2022

New Zealand’s Catholic bishops have lifted all remaining pandemic restrictions on attending Mass and urged all the faithful to return to Sunday Mass. This follows the Government removing most Covid-19 requirements along with the “traffic light” system this week.

The Catholic bishops imposed various health and safety measures to fight Covid-19 when national restrictions began in March 2020. The bishops’ measures included a dispensation on the obligation for Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays.

“With the recent lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions we are happy to extend an enthusiastic invitation for all Catholics of Aotearoa New Zealand to return to full and active participation in Sunday Mass,” the bishops say in a letter sent to dioceses and parishes today.

“In the wake of the removal of wider government Covid-19 restrictions, all restrictions regarding the Mass are lifted.”

While many have already begun returning to Mass, this time of lifting restrictions provides an unprecedented opportunity for others who may have been away from Mass for many years or decades to return, the bishops add.

They add that it is ultimately for parish communities to decide what changes they wish to make, keeping to the fore the concern for those who are most vulnerable.

“It is important to remember… that the lifting of all Covid-19 restrictions does not remove the risk of transmission of infections from Covid-19 or other viruses. We therefore ask every community and each community member to be prudent in retaining particular restrictions as deemed necessary in the interests of continuing to protect the most vulnerable.”

The bishops say everyone has lived through difficult times since March 2020, including serious illness and months of restrictions prompted by concern for the weak and the most vulnerable.

“Throughout this time our personal relationship with Jesus Christ has sustained us and we have continued to pray together in innovative and creative ways including social media resources. However, we have longed for the time when we could once again worship together. In recent months this has been possible to an increasing degree and with the lifting of all restrictions we welcome all Catholics of Aotearoa to return to weekly Sunday Mass.”

A Ministry of Health Guidance for Places of Worship handout dated 27 September 2022 is available here in PDF format.