"The governor must reconsider this and go to a percentage model," Bishop Deeley said, noting that other states in New England "have and continue to be at 50% capacity for worship services," and that over half of U.S. states have no restrictions at all on congregation sizes.
"We have asked for even 25% [capacity limits], but the governor's office will not engage in a discussion on why that makes sense," he said.
In a recent Supreme Court ruling, the court struck down California's near-total ban on indoor worship services and ruled that the state may limit churches to 25% capacity for indoor services.
Since public Masses resumed in the diocese of Portland in June, 2020, Deeley said there have been no outbreaks traced to any Catholic church in the state, and that churches throughout the state have not only complied with the protocols, but "have enforced even stricter safeguards" in order to "ensure the safety of parishioners and the wider community."
Catholic parishes and schools have successfully opened successfully during the pandemic, he said.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
"It is difficult to understand the state's position when we have shown that we can successfully operate our churches and schools, which offer five days of in-person learning per week," he said. He called the cooperation by Catholics and parish staff "heroic" in ensuing Masses are celebrated safely.
Deeley said the ongoing restrictions are "not right," particularly in the penitential season of Lent.
"Not having daily and weekly access to the Eucharist, the very presence of Christ, has been a great hardship for thousands of Maine Catholics, particularly when our neighboring states are allowed to provide this opportunity," he said.