French court orders government to loosen rules on religious ceremonies

French court orders government to loosen rules on religious ceremonies
People pray during a service at the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris on November 29, 2020 with only 30 people allowed in per church. ALAIN JOCARD / AFP
France's highest administrative court on Sunday ordered the government to loosen coronavirus rules allowing no more than 30 people at religious services, in the face of angry objections from church leaders.

The Council of State said it was giving Prime Minister Jean Castex three days to change the rules, as the limit of 30 set to combat the coronavirus was not sufficient to allow the faithful to attend services when they wanted.

Catholic associations had filed a complaint with the body on Friday describing the government measures as “unnecessary, disproportionate and discriminatory”.

Their lawyers had argued that the latest coronavirus rules in France –which on Saturday saw non-essential businesses allowed to open — meant that in the run-up to Christmas a superstore could host hundreds of people but a cathedral could admit only a handful of believers.

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People attend a service at the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris, November 29, 2020: ALAIN JOCARD / AFP

France's Council of Bishops (CEF) applauded the ruling, saying “common sense has been recognised” while expressing the hope that “resorting to justice should be the exception in the dialogue with the authorities in our country”.

Its representatives were due to meet Prime Minister Jean Castex later on Sunday to discuss the next steps

READ ALSO: Calendar: The next key dates in France's plan to end lockdown


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  1. As a Roman Catholic I would of thought that my Church would try to set the best example for its parishoners. This is not a best practices example, but a terrible example for an instutition to set that has provided in the past an ideal example of loving and christian behavior for its parishoners. I understand that the requirements for shopping are very different. But where does it say in the Bible we should stoop to that level and not be concerned wioth life, and expose people to covid-19 and possibly death? This sounds more like going to Mass is a public spectacle of your religiousness, and not your contriteness. I was under the impresion that Mass was a time to worship Gods word, and reflect on God and what he wants us to accomplish.

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