Barcelona Cardinal Defies Government, Celebrates Funeral Mass

Archbishop of Barcelona Cardinal Juan Jose Omella (C) and priests leave after officiating a mass for victims of the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona on July 26, 2020. - The Spanish government said on July 26, 2020 that in spite of the recent surge in coronavirus cases, …
PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

The archbishop of Barcelona celebrated a funeral Mass Sunday evening for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic, in open defiance of an official 10-person cap for religious assemblies.

Cardinal Juan Jose Omella — who is also the president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference — officiated the funeral in the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, in the presence of some 150 members of the faithful, all of whom were wearing face masks.

The cardinal has moreover threatened to take legal action against civil authorities for the “arbitrariness” with which they are treating the right of religious freedom and worship. He has argued that the 10-person ceiling is an arbitrary attack against religious freedom, underscoring the inconsistency of allowing up to 1000 visitors at a time into the Basilica of the Holy Family, while only permitting 10 people if they are attending a religious service.

We find the directive “unfair and discriminatory” the cardinal wrote in a communiqué posted on the archdiocesan website, noting that “we have been very careful and respectful in maintaining the health standards required for enclosed spaces.”

The archdiocese was informed by officials Friday that its request for permission to hold the funeral Mass had been denied, but the announcement came after the invitations for the Mass had already been sent out.

In his homily, Cardinal Omella said that the funeral Mass was offered “for all the victims of the coronavirus and for all those who died from other causes during the time of lockdown, who were not able to receive the deserved farewell.”

“Many people have suffered the loss of a loved one during this terrible pandemic. The case of those who have not even been able to say goodbye to their relatives is especially hard,” he said. “In this Eucharist we will share with all of them the warmth of the Christian community, the comfort of faith and hope in the resurrection.”

“We have lived an experience where feelings of confusion, fear, fragility have intermingled,” he continued, and although God can appear silent in the face of our pain, He “does not neglect us.”

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