Argentina’s Catholic bishops have ordered their priests to begin mass on Sunday for the first time in five decades, saying the church needs to “strengthen its spiritual life.”
The bishops, who had said in March that the new mass will take place on Easter Sunday, have made the announcement in a new statement issued on Sunday.
The statement from the bishops, issued in the morning, called for the church to “continue to strengthen its spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.”
The statement also said the new Mass will take effect on Easter Saturday.
“As the bishop of Buenos Aires, I ask you to celebrate the Mass on the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception,” it read.
“The celebration will be of the Mass celebrated on the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.”
The new Mass, which will take the place of the annual Easter celebration, was announced in February, two months before Pope Francis began his first papacy.
A week before he was elected pope, Francis was criticized for not doing enough to help the poor and the marginalized.
He has said the church should “continue the journey of the Church toward the glory of God through the Gospel.”
A church-run network of religious orders has served as the Vatican’s largest charity.
In recent years, the church has been criticized for poor governance and poor public relations, particularly when it comes to its finances.
The pope has also called for a crackdown on the Catholic Church’s powerful media outlets, including the Vatican Radio, which has broadcast a steady stream of papal speeches for more than a decade.
Francis has also been accused of interfering in the election of local officials, which could cost him support from the Catholic Bishops Conference, which controls the Vatican bureaucracy.
The new Catholic Mass is expected to take place at a church in the southern city of Barquisimeto, where thousands of Argentines have gathered in recent years.