Hot as Hell: Archdiocese Excuses Sunday Obligation Because of Heat

Hot as Hell: Archdiocese Excuses Sunday Obligation Because of Heat July 19, 2019
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Temps are surging toward 100 in some parts of the country, and that’s prompted church officials in at least one archdiocese to act.

From The Baltimore Sun:

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori is advising area Catholics that they are excused from their obligation to attend Mass this weekend because of predicted high temperatures that could pose health risks to parishioners, particularly the elderly.

Lori said in a statement that with temperatures expected to top 100 degrees, the archdiocese has decided the conditions qualify as the sort of “grave cause” that relieves Catholics from their “Sunday obligation,” according to church law.

Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said that while it’s not particularly unusual for the organization to make a similar call during winters — blizzards or ice storms qualify as “grave causes” every few years, he said — it’s a rarity for the decision to be made for summer conditions.

“No one can really recall when we’ve done it for the heat, but we looked at the same principles we use for the winter, and looked at the health concerns and risks posed, and we came to the conclusion it’s really no different,” he said.

Caine said many vulnerable Catholics, including the elderly, would likely observe the obligation even in the sweltering conditions if they didn’t know they had been formally excused.

“We want to tell anyone concerned about the weather that their health comes first, and not to worry about the obligation,” Caine said. “This is to say to them, ‘You’re free to make the call.’ ”

Read on. 

Meantime, the press release: 

Archbishop William E. Lori is reminding Catholics in the Archdiocese of Baltimore that Church law excuses them from fulfilling the Sunday obligation to attend Mass due to a grave cause, such as the health risks posed by severe weather. Forecasters are predicting excessive heat for this coming weekend, posing a health risk to many, including the elderly.

Many parishes in the Archdiocese stream Mass live on parish websites and social media channels. A list of Masses streamed online is posted on the Archdiocese’s website, Radio Mass of Baltimore also airs live from St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Baltimore on WCBM-680 AM at 9 a.m. Sunday and is re-aired the same day at 6 p.m. The Eternal Word Television Network also broadcasts the Mass at various times each day. Check for listings. Those who cannot safely attend Mass are encouraged to participate through one of these options.

The readings for Sunday, July 21, 2019, the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, can be found at

In Baltimore City, Catholic Charities will operate Our Daily Bread, My Sister’s Place, My Brother’s Keeper and the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center as a cooling center for those seeking a respite from the heat during the day. Catholic Charities will also keep the shelter dormitories in those facilities open during the day so that people experiencing homeless can avoid the heat.

The Archbishop prays for the health and safety of all during this extreme weather.

Anyone know if other dioceses are following suit?

Flashback: It’s very rare to encounter an advisory like this because of heat. This issue comes up most often during bad winter weather, usually with blizzards. I posted on this problem some years back, when a storm hit Boston and the archdiocese warned: 

The archdiocese … reminded Catholics to be prudent and heed travel advisories in their cities and towns.

In the statement, the archdiocese expressed hope the storm will have passed and roads will be clear by Sunday. But it reminded Catholics that under church law, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass “does not apply when there is grave difficulty in fulfilling this obligation.”

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