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AUSTRALIA, May 29, 2020  (LifeSiteNews) — As coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased in Australia, states around the country are granting equal or less freedom for people to attend church as they are to pub and restaurant goers.

In New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland (Australia’s most populated states) restrictions on churches are generally being lifted at the same rate as those on pubs and restaurants. 

From the start of June, 50 people will be allowed to attend church services at a time in NSW, with the same number allowed in pubs and restaurants in the state. 

Initially, churches in NSW were not included in the list of venues that would benefit from the relaxed restrictions but now have been. Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher has said he is grateful to the state government for the change of policy.

“It is with great joy that we learnt today that the New South Wales Government has agreed to relax the restrictions on churches and worship, to bring them into line with like venues and activities,” he said in a statement released today

“This is a just and common-sense outcome but it took some negotiating, and I thank all those who joined our campaign for it. Other parts of Australia have not yet achieved parity between churches and other venues, and so you might still like to sign up to our revised petition at openourchurches.com.au.”

Across the border in Victoria, just 20 people are being allowed to attend church services – the same number as hospitality venues. In Queensland there are also similar restrictions on both hospitality venues and churches, with maximum numbers currently capped at 10 people, but rising to 20 later in June and 100 in July.

In South Australia, however, from the start of June restaurants and cafes will be permitted up to 80 diners, while no more than 20 will be allowed to attend church services.

In an open letter published earlier this month Catholic clergy led by former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Cardinals Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Joseph Zen, and Janis Pujats reminded politicians around the world that “[t]he State has no right to interfere, for any reason whatsoever, in the sovereignty of the Church.”

“This autonomy and freedom are an innate right that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given her for the pursuit of her proper ends. For this reason, as Pastors we firmly assert the right to decide autonomously on the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, just as we claim absolute autonomy in matters falling within our immediate jurisdiction, such as liturgical norms and ways of administering Communion and the Sacraments,” the signatories stated.

Numbers in this article are based on report in The Guardian (May 29).

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