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February 16, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — America, a magazine published by the Jesuits of the United States, encouraged Catholics to ignore Mass obligations in an article on Friday, implying that “conscience” could overrule bishops’ directives.

The article, titled, “Explainer: Your bishop said it’s time to come back to church. Is it a sin if you don’t go?,” came days after the Archdiocese of Detroit announced the end of a Mass dispensation enacted in light of COVID-19 almost a year ago.

“Catholics are obligated to attend Mass, although there are circumstances when they should not,” the article states. “But beyond the three examples cited in official church teaching — lack of a priest, illness and caring for infants — the specifics regarding what qualifies as a serious reason for missing Mass are left to individual believers,” it claims.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that “the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.”

“Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin,” the Church teaches.

Bishops, as “vicars and legates of Christ,” have variously expanded and restricted exemptions from Mass in their dioceses throughout the COVID-19 crisis. For example, after suspending the Sunday Mass requirement last spring, Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee declared the general dispensation over in August, stating “[i]t will be the responsibility of those who are capable and not prohibited by other circumstances to attend Sunday Mass.”

“Fear of getting sick, in and of itself, does not excuse someone from the obligation,” he declared, echoing the pronouncement that deliberate failure to attend Mass incurs “grave sin.”

America nevertheless appeared to endorse disobedience to such directives, quoting Adam Rasmussen, a Georgetown University lecturer, who said that “[p]eople have to make their own decisions about what is the right moment to go to work, to school and to church.”

“Everyone has to decide that with their own conscience,” he claimed.

Rasmussen, a dissident, pro-LGBT professor who has defended Pope Francis’s support for civil unions and affirmation of Pachamama statues, had slammed the Detroit archdiocese earlier last week for insisting on “essential” participation in the Eucharist.

“In allowing the general dispensation to expire, we welcome back to Mass all Catholics who have already been engaged in other activities that would present a similar or greater risk of exposure,” wrote Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron last week.

“The dispensation granted by your conscience, when it decides what is or is not safe and responsible for you to do, can never expire,” Rasmussen responded in defiance.

Along with Listecki and Vigneron, other prelates, like Bishop Donald Degrood of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, have stressed limitations on relying on “conscience” to determine whether to return to Mass.

“If one wishes to avoid attending Sunday Mass in person due to significant fear or some other serious reason, the Church teaches us that we must carefully discern whether the fear is morally justifiable, or whether such fear is inordinate,” Degrood said in a letter restricting Mass exemptions to caregivers and those at risk of “severe illness” last summer.

He added that “it is essential” that discernment happen through prayer, followed by “good faith” decisions “based upon objective data.” The bishop echoed Listecki’s emphasis that Catholics rely on “well-formed,” “truthful” consciences when approaching the Sunday Mass obligation.

America’s latest break with Church directives follows a years-long pattern of habitual dissidence that has included clear support for Communism, LGBT ideology and non-Catholic reception of the Eucharist.

Infamous LGBT promoter Fr. James Martin, SJ, editor-at-large at the magazine, recently incurred serious backlash from faithful Catholics after tweeting a blasphemous, pro-LGBT manipulation of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa in January. A new LifePetition calling for formal censure of the priest has over 21,000 signatures.