The French Bishops’ Conference (CEF) published a statement this week acknowledging new, more reasonable government limitations on public worship in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“The CEF considers that this measure proportionate to the reception capacity of the buildings, although restrictive, is applicable,” the December 2 statement read.
“This new, more realistic measure, of which the CEF was informed at the beginning of the afternoon, follows on a consultation with faith leaders organized last Sunday by the government,” the text states. “The CEF is delighted that a constructive dialogue is renewed with the public authorities.”
As Breitbart News reported, after the nation’s bishops filed an urgent appeal to the court last Sunday, France’s top court for administrative justice ruled that the government’s prior 30-person limit on public worship constituted a “disproportionate” measure.
In its decision, the judge for the Council of State (Conseil d’Etat) ordered the government to modify the limit within three days and the new restrictions, which will be in force for the next two Sundays, represent a response to this ruling.
The presiding judge found the ceiling was “disproportionate with regard to the objective of preserving public health” and that the French government “had committed a serious and manifestly unlawful attack on the fundamental freedom which is the freedom of worship.”
The new measures require leaving two seats free between each person or family unit and leaving every other pew completely empty.
“From Sunday to Sunday, this Advent period, which began on November 29, is a path to Christmas,” the bishops declare. “The Catholic communities hope with all their hearts to be able to celebrate the great mystery of faith in their churches on the evening of the 24th, with the least possible restriction.”