Court orders France to lift ban on religious services

France's highest administrative court has ruled that the government must lift a blanket ban on meetings at places of worship imposed as part of measures to combat the coronavirus.

After receiving complaints from several individuals and associations, the Council of State said on Monday that such a ban on freedom of worship caused “a damage that is serious and manifestly illegal”.

It told the government to lift the ban within the next eight days.

Under France's strict lockdown, places of worship were closed but when phase 1 of the lifting of lockdown began on May 11th places of worship were allowed to to reopen – but not hold services.

READ ALSO What changes in phase 1 of lifting lockdown?

 

The only gatherings permitted are funerals, which are limited to a maximum of 20 people.

But the Council of State ruled this ban was “disproportionate in nature.”

It remains to be seen what move the government will take to respect the decision while retaining a safe environment in churches, mosques and other places of worship.

Gatherings of more than 10 people in public places are still forbidden under phase 1 of the loosening of lockdown.

READ ALSO What are the rules on socialising as lockdown lifts?

Bruno Retailleau, who leads the right-wing Republicans in the upper house Senate, wrote on Twitter that the ruling was “good news for the freedom of religion” which is a fundamental right”.

One of the first coronavirus clusters in France was centred around an evangelical church event in Mulhouse, eastern France which went on to be the worst affected area in the country.


Member comments

  1. My family has belonged to the Roman Catholic Church for over 400 years. And I do NOT need to go to church to be a good Catholic. Yes, I love going to mass. And I also understand my obligations in regards to sacramemtals. But going to mass in no way influences my actions, I will always be a good Catholic and believe. I do not need to go to mass as a social function. Which for many that is what it has become. You can be a good devout Roman Catholic and NOT go to mass. Except at 1 time during the year, Easter. And every one of us missed that.

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