There will be no weekday Holy Days of Obligation this year,
except for Christmas Day.
The unusual situation has arisen because of the way the calendar falls. Of the seven Holy Days of Obligation in England and Wales, three were transferred to a Sunday in 2006. Another three, Ss Peter and Paul, the Assumption and All Saints’ Day, fall on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but because of a rule dating back to the 1980s they, too, are transferred to the nearest Sunday this year.
London priest Fr Dominic Allain, a critic of the change, said it meant an end to “any interruption by religion in the week”. He said: “The bishops claimed to have consulted on this, although I can’t find any evidence of this, and I’ve never met anyone who thought it was a great idea.
“The logic is that it would allow these feasts to be celebrated with greater dignity, which is a nonsense when you think of feasts that are back-to-back, Ascension followed by Pentecost followed by Trinity.
“The other justification is that it would be easier to get to Mass, which is just not true when you have all the vigils. All that happens is that [the feasts] get downgraded. What results is total confusion – there is a great feeling that this is a mistake.”
He continued: “They know it’s unpopular, there was talk of restoring Epiphany and the Ascension, but it came around the time of the Friday penance and maybe they thought this was Catholicism too far.”
Martin Foster, assistant secretary of the Bishops’ Conference Liturgy Department, said: “At the time the bishops made the decision they had lots of correspondence [arguing] both ways.”
He said the policy to transfer feast days falling on Saturday or Monday to Sunday, was introduced in 1986.