The Archbishop of San Francisco claimed Monday that the city government is depriving Catholics of their religious rights and urged Democratic Mayor London Breed and public health officials to “at a minimum, remove the excessive limits on outdoor public worship.”
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone explained in a public letter the importance of gathering together physically to celebrate the Mass and pointed out that “San Francisco is the only government in the entire Bay Area that restricts public gatherings to 12 people out of doors.” He also referenced a study by “three major infectious disease specialists” that “over one million public [M]asses have been celebrated following guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus … for Catholic churches following these guidelines, no outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to church attendance.”
Ours and others’ faith is being treated as less important than a trip to the hardware store, or a nice dinner out on the patio. This denial of access to safe outdoor public worship is a serious deprivation of our rights as Americans under the First Amendment and our spiritual needs as people of faith. One million public Masses without any Covid outbreaks demonstrates that it is just as safe in San Francisco as in other parts of the state, such as San Mateo County, to permit large gatherings for outdoor public worship with reasonable safety precautions.
Read the archbishop’s full statement here.
San Francisco’s strict lockdown order applies not just to churches but to businesses such as hair salons and barbershops. The city’s congresswoman, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, made headlines Tuesday when footage emerged of her getting her hair done in a salon that was otherwise shut down.
As reported by Catholic San Francisco, the mayor’s updated reopening schedule includes “a potential mid-September expansion of outdoor worship services to 50 people from the current limit of 12. Indoor worship is listed as a goal for the end of September, with gatherings of up to 25 or 25% of capacity.
Cordileone added his voice to the chorus of California church leaders who are speaking out against what they claim as onerous lockdown orders against houses of worship and other establishments the state has deemed non-essential.
Just south of San Francisco in Santa Clara County, North Valley Baptist Church was smacked with a $10,000 fine recently after county agents inspected their service to see if congregants were singing while gathered indoors. As The Daily Wire reported, a four-age notice plastered on the church’s door informed it that it was being fined for holding two indoor services during which singing took place.
Senior Pastor Jack Trieber told state and local authorities in a Facebook video, “I plead with you, back off. Open up the spiritual environment of this valley immediately because we’re going to see chaos. I’m not threatening that we’re going to create chaos … but I am willing to take a stand.”
In a similar case last week, Los Angeles County terminated a parking lot lease it held with Grace Community Church after Pastor John MacArthur and the congregation took them to court once the county threatened daily fines for resuming in-person assembly.
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