Religious services are essential services says Vatican official

A Vatican official is insisting religious services should be seen as the highest of essential services.

Pandemic practices over the past year have shown they are not automatically super-spreader events, Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“There are numerous examples of how the freedom of worship can be guaranteed while taking all the necessary precautions to reasonably protect public safety.”

Pope Francis, the Vatican and most of the world’s bishops acknowledge and accept most local and national government measures to ensure public health and slow the spread of the pandemic.

“But some measures have gone so far as to “impinge on the free exercise of numerous human rights.”

“Any limitations on the exercise of human rights for the protection of public health must stem from a situation of strict necessity.

“Such limitations must be proportional to the situation, applied in a nondiscriminatory fashion and used only when no other means are available.”

In some regions and nations, the criteria for essential services were not met when it comes to religious gathering, Gallagher said.

While agreements to respect religious freedom while protecting public health are possible, some government officials never think to contact and work with religious leaders.

Gallagher told the UN that a “robust understanding of religious freedom is being eroded” in the global response to the pandemic.”

“By ignoring the religious dimension of the human person, or worse, by dismissing it as nonessential, this fundamental right is being reduced gradually to a form of personal and private freedom of thought or opinion rather than respected as an integral part of what it means to be human,” Gallagher said.

“The Holy See would like to stress that, as is recognized in numerous human rights instruments, the freedom of religion also protects its public witness and expression – both individually and collectively, publicly and – in forms of worship, observance and teaching.”

Rather than doing their utmost to protect religious freedom, too many local and regional governments moved to apply “even stricter limitations to places of worship or religious education than they do for many other activities and services,” he added.


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