California’s strict coronavirus rules banning indoor worship were blocked and revised by a U.S. Supreme Court injunction late Friday night, drawing praise from figures like Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. He emphasized the importance of in-person religious gatherings and stressed that the Catholic Church is following “reasonable measures” to limit the epidemic.
“This is a very significant step forward for basic rights. This decision makes clear we can now return to worshiping safely indoors without risk of harassment from government officials,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said Feb. 6.
“As Christians we are members of a Church, which literally means an assembly of people coming together to worship God,” Cordileone continued. “This is our identity; it is in our very nature to gather in person to give honor and glory to God. And especially as Catholics we know that our worship cannot be livestreamed: there is no way to give Communion, or any of the other sacraments via the internet.”
California’s limits on religious services can vary by county, depending on infection rates. However, almost all of the state is in the Tier 1 ranking of viral spread, and this tier bars in-person worship indoors, the New York Times reports. Critics have said the ban wrongly singles out religious gatherings and is among the strictest in the country.
The Supreme Court’s unsigned order said that the total ban on indoor worship is unconstitutional. At most, the state may limit indoor capacity to 25% of normal. It left the ban on singing intact.
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