Catholics return to in-person Mass in Philadelphia region

At the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, many churchgoers say they feel safe attending Mass.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some Catholics returned to church for the first time this weekend as Pennsylvania Bishops reinstated the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days.

At the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, many churchgoers say they feel safe attending Mass.

"My faith, that's why I come here," said Brian Scanlon, who says he's been coming to Mass throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic.

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He says he understands people who haven't felt safe.

"When it comes to illness, you're excused from Mass. If you're terrified of illness, that's a legitimate reality," said Scanlon.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia does give exceptions to certain people from the obligation, including those who are sick or have a serious health risk.

During Sunday morning services at Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, the priest spoke about the importance of showing up.

"That's the best part of it, the feeling of community, being back with all the people. It was nice in the home, when we could do that, but it's beautiful to be with everybody," said Annette Santolla from Mechanicsburg.

The archdiocese says it's been working with public health officials to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in church. Despite the recent rise in cases, the archdiocese believes in-person services are safe.

Archbishop Nelson Perez said in a statement in part, "Ensuring the health and welfare of those entrusted to the pastoral and temporal care of our church, especially as we navigate a global pandemic, is a paramount priority as the Archbishop of Philadelphia."

In addition to returning to church, the archdiocese is again asking everyone who's able to get the COVID-19 vaccine to do so as an act of charity.

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