Rome Newsroom, Nov 3, 2020 / 09:00 am
As France begins its second lockdown this year, French bishops are filing an urgent appeal to continue public Masses, arguing that the most recent coronavirus restrictions “violate freedom of worship.”
The French bishops’ conference announced Monday night that it would file a “référé liberté” with the Council of State regarding the lockdown decree issued last week. This urgent administrative procedure is filed as a petition to a judge for the protection of fundamental rights, in this case, the right to freedom of worship.
The Council of State both advises and judges the French government on its compliance with the law.
In a statement issued Nov. 2, the bishops said that the French government coronavirus decree “violates the freedom of worship which is one of the fundamental freedoms in our country.”
Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference, consulted with all of France’s bishops gathered at the plenary assembly Nov. 2 and said that together they believe that the government ban on public Masses is “out of proportion,” according to the statement.
Under France’s second lockdown, which will continue until at least Dec. 1, people are not allowed to go 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) beyond their homes, except for essential work or medical reasons. All non-essential businesses, including restaurants, are closed, but schools remain open.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin specified in a video conference with religious leaders on Oct. 28 that churches will be allowed to remain open. But all religious ceremonies throughout the country, including public Masses, will be suspended from Nov. 2 until at least Dec. 1, according to La Croix.
Places of worship may remain open for weddings, with a maximum of six people, and funerals, with a maximum of 30 people.