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Christians attending worship service at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, California, July, 2020.LifeSiteNews

PETITION: Support pastors fighting against oppressive state mandates! Sign the petition here.

September 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As hundreds of Protestant pastors in California continue to offer worship services to the faithful, defying Governor Gavin Newsom’s order, Catholic bishops continue to largely remain missing in action, what one Catholic professor referred to as a “scandal.” 

Protestant pastors have strongly opposed the restrictions. One has filed a lawsuit challenging the order; another has said he will defy the order by opening his church, even if it results in his arrest.

“God has not called us to be cowards,” explained Pastor Che Anh of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California to LifeSiteNews. The pastors see the need to mount a vigorous defense of the religious freedom they are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. 

Meanwhile, Roman Catholic bishops in California have said nothing publicly that challenges Governor Newsom’s Covid-19 restrictions. They have quietly accepted the state’s Covid-19 restrictions on worship, choosing cooperation over protest. 

The bishops have advised parishes under their charge to hold outdoor services, which are permitted by the state government under certain conditions.  Unfortunately, this advice is often not acted upon by individual parishes for a variety of reasons, including a lack of outdoor space. As a consequence, thousands of practicing Catholics throughout California are now denied participating in the Mass and partaking of the Blessed Sacrament.

Dr. Janet Smith, a retired professor who taught at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, told LifeSiteNews that it is a “scandal” that Christians who do not believe in Christ’s real presence in the Eucharists are more zealous for their faith than Christians who do. 

When asked why Protestant pastors in California had loudly protested the state’s Covid-19 restrictions while the leadership of the Catholic Church in the state had silently accepted them, Smith replied: 

“It could be that [the Protestant pastors] simply have more common sense and courage.  If it is because they have more faith, how demoralizing is that?  Wouldn't it be a great instance of Christian fraternity if the bishops linked arms with Protestant preachers (and those of other religions) to insist that religious liberty be honored?”

“Don't the bishops realize what a scandal it is that those who do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the sacrament are more zealous to participate in worship than are the Roman Catholic bishops?  I wouldn't be surprised if some Catholics begin going to Protestant services precisely to experience Christian community. Will they return?” she added.

LifeSite contacted Bishop Edward Clark, Bishop Alejandro Aclan, and Bishop Robert Barron, each of whom runs a separate pastoral region in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, to ask them for comment. 

In response, LifeSite received a statement from the Archdiocese, which read, in part: “God calls us to protect all human life. While it has been difficult to suspend Masses indoors, we continue to celebrate the Eucharist and the Sacraments at outdoor Masses to limit the spread of Covid.”

The statement did not address the challenges parishes face in holding outdoor services, nor did it question the constitutional validity of Governor Newsom’s restrictions on churches.

Jesse Romero, a popular host on the Virgin Most Powerful Radio network, told LifeSiteNews that the bishops’ inaction may be connected to money. 

“Remember what St. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 6:10 — ‘For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith,’” said Romero.  “If you want to know why the Roman Catholic bishops of California are so passive, those words explain why. Follow the money.”

“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) receives roughly half of its $200 million operating budget from the U.S. government and through the approval of the Democratic Party.  And who is the president of the USCCB right now?  Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles.  And which political party runs California?  The Democratic Party.  The bishops aren't going to bite the hand that feeds them,” he said. 

LifeSite contacted the Archdiocese of San Francisco to see if Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was willing to address these important issues.  In response, Mike Brown, the Archdiocese’s Director of Communications, told LifeSiteNews the Archbishop was not available for an interview.  He referred LifeSiteNews to the Archdiocese’s web site.

Cordiolene recently launched a petition calling on Mayor London Breed, Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax, and San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón, to ease restrictions that limit outdoor religious services to 12 people. 

“I am grateful that the Mayor and other government leaders in San Francisco acknowledge the importance of mental and spiritual health to the overall well-being of our people, in addition to physical and economic health. I am therefore calling on the Mayor and her public health officials to, at a minimum, remove the excessive limits on outdoor public worship,” the petition reads.


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