In the final weeks of France's first lockdown in May, the Council of State ruled that the government had to end the ban on meetings in places of worship after similar objections were raised. The court called the ban on religious gatherings "disproportionate in nature" and "manifestly illegal."
Archbishop Moulins-Beaufort of Reims and Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris met with Prime Minister Jean Castex in Paris on the eve of France's second lockdown to discuss security measures regarding the coronavirus, as well as the attack on the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice.
Moulins-Beaufort had written to French President Emmanuel Macron earlier in the week requesting that public worship be allowed to continue during France's lockdown and that Catholics would be allowed to visit cemeteries for All Souls' Day.
The bishop also requested that the French government allow Catholic chaplaincies in hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons to continue to operate during the lockdown.
Other French bishops spoke out on social media. Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne wrote on Twitter Oct. 28: "It seems to me that freedom of worship is at stake, especially since schools remain open."
Europe is currently experiencing a second wave of coronavirus cases, which has led Ireland to impose a lockdown, Italy and Spain to implement curfews, Germany to close all bars and restaurants for one month, and England to announce a four-week lockdown that will start Nov. 5.
French health authorities reported 52,518 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours on Nov. 2 with 25,143 people currently hospitalized with the coronavirus. The U.K. reported 18,950 new coronavirus cases on the same date.
Bishops in England have urged the government to permit Catholics to attend public Masses during this year's second lockdown. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool said that the government's decision to halt collective worship would cause "deep anguish."
"Whilst we understand the many difficult decisions facing the government, we have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that would make the banning of communal worship, with all its human costs, a productive part of combating the virus. We ask the government to produce this evidence that justifies the cessation of acts of public worship," wrote the president and vice-president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
Irish bishops met with the Taoiseach last week to petition the government to lift the current coronavirus restrictions on public worship "as soon as possible."
"We have been doing everything possible to keep our church buildings safe, and there is no evidence that the church buildings and church worship have actually been a source of contagion or spreading the infection, so I have to say that I was disappointed and I said that to the Taoiseach," Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh said after the meeting.
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