Press Release of the Permanent Council Following the Prime Minister’s Announcements Concerning the Deconfinement
On April 28, 2020, the Prime Minister announced that celebrations with assemblies cannot begin again until June 2, even if places of worship can remain open as they are today; that funeral liturgies can always be held, both in churches as well as in cemeteries, limiting the number of participants to 20.
In the name of all the Bishops, the Permanent Council of the Conference of Bishops of France takes note with regret of this date, which is imposed on Catholics and on the religions of our country. We share the Government’s anxiety to limit to the maximum the circulation of the epidemic, but we see unfavorably that the ordinary practice of the Mass fosters the spread of the virus <and> hinders the respect for barrier gestures more than many activities that will start again soon. We are persuaded that the spiritual and religious dimension of the human being contributes to peace of hearts, to strength in trials, to fraternity between persons, and to the whole of social life. Freedom of worship is a constitutive element of democratic life. This is why the Bishops wish to meet with national or local public powers to prepare the effective resumption of worship.
Catholics have respected and will respect the Government’s instructions. The Permanent Council of the Bishops of France earnestly encourages families that will be affected by mourning not to give up religious funerals, even if all the members of their family cannot come together. It also encourages the faithful to go to churches to pray individually; it recommends to dioceses and parishes to continue to propose the necessary means for their life of faith. Moreover, the Church of France will evaluate how this new picture makes possible the taking up again of certain charitable activities, given the precarious situations of which it is witness.
The Feast of Pentecost should mark — barring the resumption of the epidemic –, the end of the severe confinement in the matter of the liturgical and sacramental life. The Permanent Council of the Bishops of France invites Catholics to live the month of May as a month “at the Cenacle,” in an insistent prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit and as a Marian month.