French bishops launch second legal appeal to reinstate public Masses for all

November 27, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Rome Newsroom, Nov 27, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- The French bishops’ conference announced Friday that it would submit another appeal to the Council of State, calling a proposed 30-person limit on public Masses during Advent “unacceptable.”

In a statement issued Nov. 27, the bishops said that they “have a duty to ensure the freedom of worship in our country” and therefore would file another “référé liberté” with the Council of State regarding the latest government coronavirus restrictions on Mass attendance. 

A “référé liberté” is an urgent administrative procedure that 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.

French Catholics have been without public Masses since Nov. 2 due to France’s strict second lockdown. On Nov. 24, President Emmanuel Macron announced that public worship could resume Nov. 29 but would be limited to 30 people per church. 

The announcement elicited a strong reaction from many Catholics, including several bishops.

“It is a totally stupid measure that contradicts common sense,” Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris said Nov. 25, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro. 

The archbishop, who practiced medicine for more than 20 years, continued: “Thirty people in a small village church, we understand, but in Saint-Sulpice, it’s ridiculous! Two thousand parishioners come to certain parishes in Paris, and we’re going to stop at 31 … It’s ridiculous.”

Saint-Sulpice is the second largest Catholic church in Paris after the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. 

A statement issued by Paris archdiocese Nov. 27 argued that the government measures could have “easily have allowed the resumption of Mass in public for all, while applying a rigorous health protocol and guaranteeing the protection and health of all.”

In addition to filing the “référé liberté,” a delegation of French bishops will also meet with the prime minister on Nov. 29. The delegation will include Archishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference.

The French bishops’ initial appeal earlier this month was rejected by the Council of State on Nov. 7. But in response, the judge specified that churches would remain open and that Catholics would be able visit a church near their homes, regardless of distance, if they carried out the necessary paperwork. Priests would also be allowed to visit people in their homes and chaplains permitted to visit hospitals.

France has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than two million recorded cases and over 50,000 deaths as of Nov. 27, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Following the Council of State’s decision, the bishops proposed a protocol of reopening public liturgies at a third of each church’s capacity, with increased social distancing.

The bishops’ conference statement asked French Catholics to abide by the government’s rules while the outcome of their legal challenge and negotiations are pending. 

In recent weeks Catholics have taken to the streets in major cities across the country to protest against the public Mass ban, praying together outside their churches.

“May the use of the law help to calm the spirits. It is clear to all of us that the Mass cannot become a place of struggle … but remain a place of peace and communion. The first Sunday of Advent should turn us peacefully to the coming Christ,” the bishops’ statement said.


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Pope Francis: Avoid the temptation of seeking ‘utopia’ in this world

November 27, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

Vatican City, Nov 27, 2020 / 07:00 am (CNA).- In a video message to a Catholic social doctrine conference on Thursday, Pope Francis said that remembering our baptism and the promise of eternal life can help us avoid the temptation to seek “utopia” in this world.

In the message released Nov. 26, he described a positive attitude in which believers are immersed in society yet live their baptism in the light of a future life with God.

“This attitude helps us to overcome the temptation of utopia, to reduce the proclamation of the Gospel to a simple sociological horizon or to get involved in the ‘marketing’ of various economic theories or political factions,” the pope said.

His video message was sent to participants in a Nov. 26-29 online “Festival of Social Doctrine.” The Italian event is in its 10th edition, with this year’s theme being “Memory of the Future.”

The goal of the festival is to be a “leaven in society” and “to create a place of discussion among Catholics engaged in work, in society and in public responsibility” who want to promote the common good.

Referring to the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “Lumen gentium,” Pope Francis said that “living the memory of the future means making a commitment to ensure that the Church, the great people of God, can constitute on earth the beginning and the seed of the kingdom of God.”

Christians have received “Life in Baptism,” he said, explaining that it is a gift which calls us to communion with God, with others, and with creation.

Communion with God and others requires charity and “the intimacy of prayer in the presence of the Lord,” he explained.

“And,” he continued, “the Life received as a gift is the same life as Christ, and we cannot live as believers in the world except by manifesting his very life in us.”

He warned listeners about a kind of nostalgia “which blocks creativity and makes us rigid and ideological people even in the social, political and ecclesial sphere.”

Memory instead links us to love and experience and is one of the deepest dimensions of the human person, Pope Francis said. 

“This is why the dynamic of Christians is not that of nostalgically holding onto the past, but rather of accessing the eternal memory of the Father; and this is possible by living a life of charity,” he commented.

Living “in the world with the strength and creativity of the life of God in us” is the way “we will be able to fascinate the hearts and the gaze of people to the Gospel of Jesus, we will help make projects of a new inclusive economy, and politics capable of fruitful love,” the pope said.


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