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Diocese of Brooklyn sues New York over new Mass restrictions

Earlier this week, Gov. Cuomo capped indoor religious services in Brooklyn and Queens at 10 people in the areas deemed most seriously affected by the virus, and at 25 people in some other areas.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, N.Y., are seen in this composite photo. (CNS composite; photos by Shannon Stapleton, Reuters, and Gregory A. Shemitz)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 8, 2020 / 03:40 pm (CNA).- The Diocese of Brooklyn is suing the state of New York over a new order that restricts some indoor Masses in New York City to just 10 people.

The diocese alleges that the new health restrictions by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, put in place in Queens and Brooklyn amid a new spike in the coronavirus, “arbitrarily reduce capacity” at churches which worked with public health officials earlier in the summer to reopen safely after the initial wave of the virus.

“If this latest executive order stands, parishioners won’t be able to go to Mass this Sunday, even though the Diocese has done everything right to ensure safe conditions in its churches,” said the diocese’s attorney Randy Mastro.

“Thus, this religious community will be denied its most fundamental right — the free exercise of religion –for no legitimate reason whatsoever.”

Earlier this week, Cuomo capped indoor religious services in Brooklyn and Queens at 10 people in the areas deemed most seriously affected by the virus, and at 25 people in some other areas.

The Brooklyn diocese joined all other U.S. Catholic dioceses in halting public Masses in March to help slow the spread of the virus. The churches were closed for 16 weeks until July 5 when they were allowed by the state and city to reopen with precautions.

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said that churches in the diocese faithfully abided by new precautions including that Mass attendees wear masks and sit at least six feet apart.

“The executive orders this week have left us with no other option than to go to court,” DiMarzio stated on Thursday. The bishop called it “an insult” for the state “to once again penalize all those who have made the safe return to Church work.”

Churches in the diocese, he said, “have the capacity to accommodate many worshippers.”

On Tuesday, Cuomo announced action to target virus “hot spots” in various counties around the state, including Brooklyn and Queens. He declared certain areas “red,” “orange,” or “yellow” zones depending on the density of virus cases or their proximity to a cluster.

Mass gatherings in violation of the order could result in sponsors being fined $15,000.

Cuomo on Monday threatened to close religious institutions if they did not agree to and enforce public health rules proposed by the city, once the rules were enacted.

“If you do not agree to enforce the rules, then we’ll close the institutions down. I am prepared to do that,” he said.

“We know religious institutions have been a problem. We know mass gatherings are the super-spreader events. We know there have been mass gatherings going on in concert with religious institutions in these communities for weeks. For weeks,” the governor said. “You don’t see masks, and you see clear violation of social distancing.”

It is unclear if any of the events Cuomo referred to involved Catholic churches.

The lawsuit against the state of New York notes that Cuomo openly admitted at his press conference announcing the new restrictions that they “are most impactful on houses of worship.”

“But it is well-settled that ‘official action that targets religious conduct for distinctive treatment’ is subject to the most ‘rigorous of scrutiny’,” the lawsuit says. “The Governor’s action here cannot come close to satisfying this strict scrutiny, especially as-applied to the Diocese, which has at all times gone above and beyond in implementing health and safety precautions in response to the pandemic, and has seen no spike or outbreak of COVID-19 relating to church attendance.”

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  1. Good luck!

    Mary, Queen of the Universe, we implore your intercession on our behalf!

    We pray for the conversion of the left.

  2. I’m not understanding why the NY Diocese would want to become part of the problem by suing. Mass for the shut ins on tv is a pliable option. Mass on the Internet is another pliable option. Both of these venues are working well in the Chicagoland area. We all should be looking for a peaceful resolution.

    • “mass” on TV or the internet is NOT REAL MASS.

      A spiritual communion =/ the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

      The peaceful resolution is not surrendering what we hold most sacred as you would suggest for the “comfort” of hiding in our own homes.

      I think you will find that those who have closed the churches will have much to answer for before God and denying Him the reverence He is due in complying with the state who has NO authority to restrict or close His house.

      Don’t be led by these bishops into the abyss.

    • Bob Ward,
      Of course for the elderly and infirm watching the Mass on tv or the internet is a huge blessing. An older friend of mine in fragile health has been doing that for months. But no way is that a substitute for receiving the Blessed Sacrament.
      Younger, healthy people need to be able to worship together and receive the Sacraments. That’s a right worth standing up for.

    • The “peaceful resolution” is to follow the constitution. We have freedom of worship in this country. Open all of the Churches, for anyone who wants to attend, without fear of persecution or sickness. St. Damien of Molokai wasn’t a wuss.

      A resolution implies there is a conflict to solve. The conflict is not the Covid virus, rather it is that secular leaders have challenged and pushed around the religious leaders, and the religious leaders haven’t had any, um, male body parts to stand up to the unjust, overreaching regulations. Instead, they turn to the faithful and try to soft sell a live stream Mass. That’s not leadership, it’s cowardice. And I just can’t seem to bring myself to kneel, bow, and make the sign of the cross to my laptop.

    • You miss the point. TV is fine but you get distracted and you are not receiving the Bod Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ. That is what you do when you GO TO MASS. There is something missing by just watching it on TV.

  3. We have been so conditioned to letting the government do the thinking that of course we are asleep during the confiscation of our religious rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The less we can talk to each other the more wool gets pulled over eyes. The checks and balance of human to human contact have been denied to us because of evil.

  4. They need to clearly call out the lie for what it is. There was NO attempt made by the governor or the mayor to limit demonstrations and protests for health reasons. The obvious reason is that they knew that such gatherings did not pose a risk of spreading Covid-19. Yet they are pretending that attendance at mass and other religious gatherings poses a grave threat. Common sense, backed no doubt by science, tells us that a virus cannot distinguish between a massive gathering held to protest in support of a political objective and gatherings at churches, schools, and workplaces. It’s time forthrightly to call for this lockdown charade to end.

    • A Pentecostal church pastor did that in our state earlier this year. He was arrested once or twice but kept on holding services anyway. Back in April that might not have been the wisest thing to do but at this point we know a little more about Covid and that most people are at little risk.
      I agree that churches should not submit to restrictions that are unreasonable and intended to disproportionally affect people of faith.

    • Awesome point! We need to act! I live all the way out in Suffolk county Ny, but if a church in queens or Brooklyn opens in spite of the governmental degree, Im there!

  5. Perhaps if the bishops didn’t capitulate so easily in the beginning these tyrants wouldn’t have the resolve to keep doing whatever they want.

  6. Christianity has never been saved by peaceful resolutions. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has done the right thing. Mass on TV is for losers.

    • I don’t agree with that ‘Losers’. I cannot attend daily Mass, but find myself examining my conscience and listening to the Gospel via EWTN regularly. You record the 7am Mass if the time is inconvenient, then replay it when you have the time.

      I am able to attend weekly Mass now, but found I yearned for the Eucharistic during the shutdown. Maybe we will appreciate this sacramental grace more, now, after it was taken away from us. There is no substitute, however, for ‘gathering in My name.’

    • Thank you, Ranger01. I’ve been saying this for years. The left hates the Catholic Church for it’s spiritual/moral beliefs. I have to believe that a large number of bishops are “progressives” first and “spiritual Catholics” second.

      I would love to see a bishop or two say Mass with a large number of participants and publically state that we are essential! Social disobedience is ok with many of our leaders for “social justice,” but not ok for “spiritual” matters.

      Is Mass essential?

  7. There was and is no pandemic. There is only a virus, artificially weaponized of ocourse, yet still only as fatal as the common flu. The pandemic is a hoax. Masks damage your health greatly. There is no asymptomatic transmission, and social distancing does nothing. It’s about ushering in Agenda 21 and Agenda 30. Forced Vaccines that will kill and maim millions. Wake up, resist, and pray that these evil psychopaths and Luciferians will be vanquished before it’s too late. Evidence:

  8. Cuomo requires formal excommunication as does De Blasio. The state is being sued? That is water off their back. They require accountability. They won’t give a darn about it, but a formal rebuke is required.

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