Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Bishop Cordileone on "Americans’ right to worship is being denied by governments"

In today's Washington Post, Bishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone of the San Francisco Archdiocese calls out the government of the City of San Francisco for its discrimination against religious worship, including the Catholic Mass, in its Covid-related restrictions.  The full piece is here.


Bishop Cordileone strikes just the right balance, in my estimation, noting the legitimate role of government in establishing health regulations to protect the public during the pandemic, including safety rules for churches and worship services.  But he rightly objects to the city's heavier restrictions on churches and worship than on shopping and other economic activities.  And he reminds of our need for spiritual nourishment in the Mass, which cannot be fully obtained virtually. As he quotes one parishioner, “Why can I spend three hours indoors shopping for shoes at Nordstrom’s but can’t go to Mass?”

Bishop Cordileone recognizes that the reason for this constitutionally invalid mistreatment of churches is less likely to be malice toward religion and more likely to result from the apathy of a secular elite that increasingly dominates in governments.  Because they do not share a robust faith, they simply do not think of or regard religious worship as something important.  We must strongly resist that unlawful attitude.

He concludes with this:

All we are seeking is access to worship in our own churches, following reasonable safety protocols — the same freedoms now extended to customers of nail salons, massage services and gyms. It’s only fair, it’s only compassionate, and, unlike with these other activities, it’s what the First Amendment demands.


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