Sunday Obligation Reinstated in South Africa’s Pretoria Archdiocese after Nearly Two Years

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The Catholic Archbishop of South Africa’s Pretoria Archdiocese has reinstated the obligation to take part in Holy Mass on Sundays, which had been suspended across the country in 2020 amid COVID-19 restrictions. 

Catholic Bishops in South Africa suspended the Sunday obligation in March 2020 when places of worship were closed after COVID-19 was first recorded in the nation. 

In September 2020, Archbishop Dabula Anthony Mpako announced the reopening of churches in the Archdiocese of Pretoria, but he retained the suspension of the Sunday obligation.

In a Thursday, February 3 statement, Archbishop Mpako announces the application of “the Sunday Obligation, which had been suspended during the period of strict Lockdowns.” 

He says that the “significant improvement” of South Africa’s COVID-19 situation presents “the right time to call all Catholics back to church-in-person.”


On January 31, South Africa's Presidency announced the easing of COVID-19 restrictions saying the country had exited the fourth wave of the pandemic “nationally”. 

In his February 3 statement, Archbishop Mpako instructs that all Parishes and pastoral centers in the South African Archdiocese “fully resume normal Church practices and activities.”

"Catechesis classes can now go back to their normal schedules," the South African Archbishop says, and adds, "Sodalities and Associations should also be able to go ahead with their normal activities including carrying out elections."

In the statement, the 62-year-old Catholic leader calls on members of the Clergy and Parish Councils "to make every effort to reach out to those who are hesitant and those who have drifted away to encourage them to come back to Church and to participate actively again in the life of their communities.”

He further urges the people of God under his pastoral care to continue adhering to COVID-19 health protocols “faithfully” when they are attending Holy Mass and other liturgical celebrations.  

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While the Sunday Obligation and other church activities have been reinstated, some COVID-19 health protocols remain enforced in the Archdiocese of Pretoria. 

In a February 3 Facebook post, the leadership of the Catholic Archdiocese says the Holy Water Fonts in the churches will remain dry. 

The leadership adds that there will be no physical sign of peace and that the faithful will continue to receive the Body of Christ “on the hand only.”