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Catholics’ right to worship ‘unjustly repressed’ by government, says San Francisco archbishop

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Catholics' right to worship 'unjustly repressed' by government, says San Francisco archbishop

In imposing severe restrictions on indoor worship services because of COVID-19 protocols, the city of San Francisco “is turning a great many faithful away from their houses of prayer,” said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

“I never expected that the most basic religious freedom, the right to worship — protected so robustly in our Constitution’s First Amendment — would be unjustly repressed by an American government,” he said in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

“But that is exactly what is happening in San Francisco. For months now, the city has limited worship services to just 12 people outdoors. Worship inside our own churches is banned,” he continued.

“The city recently announced it will now allow 50 for outdoor worship, with a goal of permitting indoor services up to a maximum of 25 people by October 1 — less than 1 per cent of the capacity of San Francisco’s St Mary’s Cathedral.”

“This is not nearly enough to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Catholics in San Francisco,” he added.

The archbishop’s op-ed came a few days after he issued a memo to all priests of the San Francisco Archdiocese calling on each parish to gather parishioners to participate in eucharistic processions to UN Plaza next to City Hall “to witness to the city that faith matters.”

Three parishes are each organizing a procession that he said he hopes all parishes will join.

After reaching the plaza, the entire group will process together to the Cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption for the celebration of multiple outdoor Masses. Participants will be wearing masks and following “proper social distancing,” he added.

In the September 13 memo, he also asked priests to encourage all of their parishioners to go to the website FreeTheMass.com and sign a petition calling on San Francisco mayor London Breed to lift her “unfair restrictions” (over 3,500 people signed it the first week it was posted); and to display prominently at their churches a banner with the motto “We Are Essential: Free the Mass!”

In the op-ed, he said: “We Catholics are not indifferent to the very real dangers posed by COVID-19. This is one of the reasons Catholic churches have developed rigorous protocols to protect public health in our facilities.”

“We submitted our safety plans to the city in May along with other faith communities, and while indoor retailers had their plans approved and went into operation, we are still waiting to hear back,” he added.

At the same time, “the scientific evidence from other jurisdictions is clear: These safeguards are working,” he said, adding that out of 1 million Masses celebrated in the US in the past several months, there have been no documented outbreaks of COVID-19 linked to church attendance in churches that follow the protocols.

He noted that as San Francisco churches remain closed, “people can freely go to parks here, as long as they stay six feet apart. If they follow proper social distancing and wear masks, people can eat on an outdoor patio with no hard numerical limit. Indoor shopping malls are already open at 25 per cent capacity.”

“Catholics in San Francisco are increasingly noticing the simple unfairness,” he said. “As one of my parishioners asked recently, ‘Why can I spend three hours indoors shopping for shoes at Nordstrom’s but can’t go to Mass?”

San Francisco’s faithful are not alone in facing such severe restrictions, Archbishop Cordileone said.

He pointed to data from Becket, a Washington-based nonprofit religious liberty law firm, showing that “six states with a combined population of 67 million Americans single out religious worship for unfavourable treatment compared to similar secular activities: California, New Jersey, Maine, Virginia, Connecticut and Nevada.

Catholics bear no “hostility toward government” and “respect legitimate authority,” the archbishop said.

“We recognise that the government has a right to impose reasonable public health rules, just as we recognise its right to issue safety codes for our Church buildings,” he said. “But when government asserts authority over the Church’s very right to worship, it crosses a line.

“Our fundamental rights do not come from the state. As the authors of our Declaration of Independence put it, they are ‘self-evident,’ that is, they come from God,” he added.

“We want to be partners in protecting the public health, but we cannot accept profoundly harmful and unequal treatment without resisting,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. All talk. No action.

    Last Sunday, for the 1st time in weeks, I heard Mass! I was outside, on the sidewalk at the base of the stairs with wrought iron gates, closed at the sidewalk – At the National Shrine of St Francis of Assisi in SF.

    My wonderful Spiritual Director (a 3rd order OFM, Cap & Diocesean priest from Santa Rosa Diocese, Bp Vassa) said Mass outside on the landing at the top of the steep stairs, the entrance to the Church of St Francis’s Shrine.

    To receive Holy Communion, Fr Boettcher came down the stairs to administer The Most Precious Eucharist thru the spaces between the bars and onto our hand- sanitized hands, left hand on top of right hand, per Father’s explicit instrctions. Way more than the prescribed “only 12 allowed to gather” – more like 55-60, 6 feet apart sort of, on the sidewalk at the base of the stairs; on the street, lined up parallel with the cars; on the sidewalk directly across the street, facing the entrance.

    The SFPD told Father they would not be counting and might not even make it back over to the Shrine…

    I feel what’s coming, Excellency.

    Love n Prayers, “Stay Free” France ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

    PS: I’m promoting “Stay Free” not “stay safe…”

    Do you enjoy Crossroads hosted by Joshua Philipp (free on YouTube, or cable channel 158), M-F evening maybe 5:30p-ish your time? 20 to 25 min.Those Epoch Times & NTD reporters are really excellent, on all their different “televised” reports. However, it’s my impression Joshua Philipp is the best. Dense info. I take notes. Sometimes rewatch. ¡ VCR!

    On Fri, Sep 18, 2020, 9:29 AM ABYSSUS ABYSSUM INVOCAT / DEEP CALLS TO DEEP wrote:

    > abyssum posted: ” SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888 Catholics’ right to worship > ‘unjustly repressed’ by government, says San Francisco archbishop Catholic > News ServiceSeptember 18, 2020 at 10:51 am ” >

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