French Catholics demand Mass during lockdown: bishops disagree

Catholics demand Mass

A French bishop says people protesting in front of churches demanding they be allowed to attend Mass during lockdown are not taking their share of suffering.

Bishop Pierre-Yves Michel of Valence said the protesters were not sending the right signal on behalf of the Church.

“The health situation is serious,” he said.

“I would prefer that Catholics show that they are taking their share of suffering in these difficult times and that they overcome this feeling of injustice,” the bishop continued.

Several other bishops and heads of dioceses publicly disassociated themselves from last weekend’s prayerful protests.

Catholics across France crowded in front of churches in cities demanding they be allowed to attend Mass during lockdown.

Under France’s second lockdown, all public religious gatherings throughout the country, including public Masses, are suspended from Nov. 3 until at least Dec. 1.

The Catholic protesters argue that community celebrations and the Eucharist are vital needs for the faithful.

They say public authorities have no right to deny them spiritual nourishment by de facto classifying it as “non-essential”.

“We just want to express that our faith makes us alive. But we call on everyone to be respectful of government regulations,” said Jean-Benoît Harel, a 23-year-old law student who started the “For the Mass” petition.

The petition calls for the resumption of public celebrations. More than 100,000 people have signed the document.

Yann Raison du Cleuziou, a Catholic historian and sociologist said the controversy confronts what it is necessary to do as a Catholic.

On the one hand, some Catholics believe deprivation of the Eucharist to save lives, “constitutes a sacrifice”.

He said they see it as “a communion even greater than the Eucharist, because there is no greater love than to give one’s life for those one loves”.

But, on the other hand, he said there are Christians who see fidelity to Mass as a reminder that the first and absolute goal of life is contemplation of God, salvation. Even if it means endangering the individual body.

“There are two relationships that oppose each other here. To one’s neighbour and to the priority of service that must be rendered to God,” the sociologist concluded.


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