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WASHINGTON, D.C., December 12, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — With Christmas less than two weeks away, Cardinal Wilton Gregory is suing Democrat Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District of Columbia over their coronavirus restrictions, alleging these are “arbitrary” and “discriminatory” to churches and will cause “imminent and irreparable harm.”

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed the suit Friday evening in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the Daily Caller reported.

“Under both the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the District’s arbitrary, unscientific, and discriminatory treatment of religious worship is illegal,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit is asking the court to declare that the “50-person cap on religious gatherings violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause; First Amendment’s protections for free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association; and the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.”

It is seeking temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctions to prohibit Bowser and the District from “enforcing their unlawful policies against Plaintiff’s religious beliefs and activities.”

The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief to prevent Bowser and the District from “discriminating against Plaintiff’s religious beliefs and activities” and “prohibiting Defendants from practices or engaging in any other conduct that chills Plaintiff’s free exercise of religion, rights under RFRA, First Amendment rights, and rights under the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.”

The Catholic archdiocese has worked with the District since the pandemic began to “protect public health,” including “voluntarily suspending public Masses in March,” the lawsuit stated.

Moreover, since public Masses began again in June, “the Archdiocese has demonstrated that people can worship God in a safe, responsible, and cooperative way. This has led to an exemplary safety record: thousands of Masses, with zero known COVID outbreaks linked to the Mass,” it said.

“Yet as Christmas fast approaches, the District has imposed arbitrary 50-person caps on Mass attendance — even for masked, socially-distant services, and even when those services are held in churches that can in normal times host over a thousand people,” the lawsuit pointed out.

These restrictions are both “unscientific, in that they bear no relation to either the size of the building or the safety of the activity,” and “discriminatory, in that they single out religious worship as a disfavored activity, even though it has been proven safer than many other activities the District favors,” the lawsuit said.

“Indeed, if the Archdiocese were to fill its churches with library books, washing machines, exercise bikes, restaurant tables, or shopping stalls instead of pews, the District would allow many more people to enter and remain for an unlimited amount of time.”

The District imposes “capacity-based limits” and not “hard caps” on “public libraries, laundromats, retail stores, restaurants, tattoo parlors, nail salons, fitness centers, and many other establishments,” it pointed out.

“For example, there is no hard cap on the number of people who can dine indoors in restaurants, where alcohol is commonly served and patrons do not wear masks during meals.”

Lawsuit “last resort” for relief from “burdensome” restrictions

Cardinal Gregory echoed this in a December 11 interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, noting that the archdiocese has been “absolutely committed to following all of the health protocols that have been demanded of us.”

“And we do believe that we should, as religious people, be allowed the same latitude that other public structures are. Grocery stores and public venues that have no limits or at least very generous limits, while too often, churches and other houses of worship have more restrictions,” added Gregory.

“We here in the Archdiocese of Washington have received no cases, at least none that we know of, where people have been infected by attending church,” he said.

“So, we’ve asked for at least the possibility of proportional attendance. We just think we should not be treated any differently and certainly not unfairly in comparison to other public places for attendance.”

Fr. Daniel Carson, vicar general and moderator of the curia, said in a message to priests that the archdiocese tried to no avail to negotiate with the District. The lawsuit is a “last resort” to “seek judicial relief “from the “burdensome restrictions” that “single out religious worship for harsher treatment than similar secular activities,” he wrote.

Carson cited the November 25 Supreme Court decision Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo in which the top court ruled that “hard caps on worship attendance ‘effectively bar many from attending religious services’ and ‘many other less restrictive rules … could be adopted’ including percentage-based restrictions the District uses for many different types of businesses and activities.”

The archdiocese’s detailed 14-page COVID-19 guidelines for celebrating Mass, updated in October, direct that social distancing must be observed and masks worn at all times inside churches. Priests are not directed to wear a mask but are allowed to if they so choose.

Those receiving Holy Communion are instructed to: “Place one hand under the other while keeping your fingers together, making ‘a throne for the King,’ as St. Cyril of Jerusalem says. Receive the Host in your hand, then step six feet away from the minister. Then carefully loosen your facial covering (or mask by an ear loop), consume the Host, and replace the facial covering. If the minister accidentally touches anyone’s hand, he will immediately disinfect his own hands.”

While the archdiocese strongly encourages communicants to receive the Host on their hand, it does allow Catholics to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

It requests that those choosing to do so “go to a particular minister / wait until the end of Communion / etc.,” to be accommodated. It also requests that the eucharistic minister or priest “immediately disinfect his hands after each communicant who receives on the tongue, even if no physical contact is made.”

The archdiocese further allows for the use of the “Rite of Distributing Holy Communion Outside Mass” when attending Mass is not possible.

Pope Francis appointed Gregory as archbishop of Washington in April 2019, and on November 28, 2020, elevated him to the rank of cardinal, making him the first African-American to receive the red hat.

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PETITION UPDATE (3/15/21) - 

Reports suggest that the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference (USCCB) is preparing a vote on what to do about pro-abortion Joe Biden (and, presumably, other abortion-promoting politicians) who continues to present himself (themselves) for Holy Communion.

Public excommunication would be a suitable response for Biden's obstinate, public and grave sin of scandalously promoting abortion.

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this important petition.

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PETITION UPDATE (2/4/20)

Since Joe Biden was sworn-in on the 20th of January, he has wasted no time in signing Executive Orders to destroy the protections which former President Trump offered to the unborn and to the innocence and modesty of children of the United States.

In one executive order, Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy prohibiting the federal government from spending taxpayer monies on abortion and the promotion of abortion.

And, in another executive order, Biden seeks to force girls' athletic programs, restrooms, and locker rooms to accept gender-confused males.

Since the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was shamefully silent throughout the presidential campaign on the pre-eminent issues of abortion and gender ideology, and what Biden vowed he would do as president, it is cold comfort that their pro-life office is now speaking up about this Administration's wilful disregard for human life and for God's design of human nature (i.e., two biological sexes).

Stated plainly, Joe Biden is as bad as he said he would be, and the bishop, acting in unison (as the USCCB) have an obligation to the Lord (first) and to the faithful (second) to refuse Holy Communion to this grave public sinner.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who continues to use the church as a backdrop for statements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, is now doing everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

________________________________________________________________________________________________

PETITION UPDATE (12/10/20)

Prior to the election on November 3, the U.S. bishops did not address Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic position regarding faith and morals as a unified body.

The USCCB, the organization to which every U.S. bishop belongs and which is staffed and led by bishops, remained disgracefully silent in the run-up to the election.

What were the bishops afraid of, losing their charitable tax status with the IRS, or being deprived of fat checks from the HHS (immigration programs) and USAID (foreign aid programs)?

Or, were they just too cowardly to clearly declare Christ's law to be above man's law and risk the ire of a Joe Biden as president?

Either way, the bishops’ lack of clarity in this regard is a terrible scandal in itself and probably greatly contributed to the possible election of a pro-abortion, anti-Catholic Catholic to the presidency.

Given the fact that exit polling shows Catholics split their vote 50-50 for Trump and Biden, even a slight deviation in the heavily-Catholic swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could have produced different results.

The bishops could have spoken out against Biden’s pro-abortion stance collectively, but, again, they were overwhelmingly and shamefully silent.

Because of this, they will be at least partly responsible for the policies advanced by a Biden administration, in the event that Biden is sworn into office.

However, the bishops can, even now, mitigate the damage done by their inaction by taking the following steps: 1) Speak with one voice, as the USCCB, and plainly condemn Biden's pro-abortion stance; 2) Publicly advise Biden not to present himself for Holy Communion because of his scandalous position on abortion and homosexual "marriage;" and, 3) Tell Biden to publicly repent of publicly promoting the wilfull murder of the preborn, sins against nature, and diminishing the natural family.

Thankfully, some individual bishops have spoken out forcefully on Biden's scandalous behavior, and his standing in the Church.

On November 9, Archbishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas tweeted: “A dark cloud has descended on this nation when the USCCB and Planned Parenthood speak in unison in support of a Biden-Harris administration that supports the slaughter of innocents by abortion for all 9 months of pregnancy.”

Additionally, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado and Archbishop Charles Chaput have both declared publicly that Joe Biden “should not receive Holy Communion."

But, to add insult to injury, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. has said that he will give Holy Communion to Biden because “it’s a matter of the responsibility that I have as the archbishop to be engaged and to be in dialogue with him, even in those areas where we obviously have some differences.”

And, Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware and Bishop McElroy of San Diego also congratulated Biden in statements, but they have not indicated whether or not they would administer Holy Communion to him.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who uses the church as a backdrop to make sickening political advertisements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, says that he will do everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishops-concerned-about-pro-abortion-biden-previously-hailed-him-as-second-catholic-president

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abp-aquila-backs-call-for-pro-abortion-catholic-joe-biden-to-be-denied-holy-communion?utm_source=top_news&utm_campaign=standard

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/former-philly-archbishop-biden-not-in-full-communion-with-the-catholic-church

https://www.thesoutherncross.org/news/bishop-mcelroy-offers-prayers-and-congratulations-to-president-elect-biden/

https://www.ncronline.org/news/politics/us-catholics-weigh-mixed-reaction-biden-win

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PETITION UPDATE (9/29/20)

Cardinal Raymond Burke has stated that Democratic candidate Joe Biden should not receive Holy Communion because of his support for abortion.

In an interview for Thomas McKenna's Catholic Action for Faith and Family podcast, Cardinal Burke states the following (starting around 5:00):

First of all, I would tell him [Biden] not to approach to receive Holy Communion, out of charity toward him, because that would be a sacrilege and endanger the salvation of his own soul.

But, also, he should not approach to receive Holy Communion because he gives scandal to everyone, because if someone says, 'I'm a devout Catholic," and, at the same time is promoting abortion, it gives the impression to others that it's acceptable for a Catholic to be in favor of abortion.

Of course, it's absolutely not acceptable, and never has been, and never will be.

We give thanks for Cardinal Burke's frankness and clarity. And, we call on every U.S. Catholic bishop to follow Cardinal Burke's lead and call out Joe Biden for his bloody-minded hypocrisy on the issue of abortion.

To reiterate: You cannot be a Catholic and support abortion.

Thank you for continuing to sign this urgent petition.

___________________________________________________________________________

PETITION UPDATE (8/17/20)

The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, keeps claiming to be Catholic but has said he will do everything in his power to support abortion.

And, with his pick of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, Biden has just cemented abortion into the Democrats' 2020 presidential ticket.

Indeed, Harris is vehemently pro-abortion.

During her time as attorney general of California, Harris played a key role in defending Planned Parenthood over its sale of aborted baby parts (which violated multiple federal laws, according to undercover video of abortion industry personnel).

And, last year, Harris unveiled a plan to essentially force pro-life states to seek permission from the federal government before pro-life laws can take effect.

Additionally, Harris has dangerous views on religious liberty and freedom of speech.

Harris displayed anti-Catholic bigotry in the confirmation hearings of Judge Brian Buescher. Harris cited his membership in the “all-male society” the Knights of Columbus and its stances against abortion and same-sex “marriage” as grounds for rejecting Buescher for a federal district court in Nebraska.

And, David Daleiden, head of the pro-life investigative group Center for Medical Progress, wrote that from his firsthand experience, he considers Harris the “greatest threat to First Amendment civil rights our country has ever seen.”

Joe Biden has seriously erred by taking on Kamala Harris as his running mate, further distancing himself from the truths of the Catholic Faith, especially that every life is sacred from conception till natural death.

Please CLICK HERE to read an article which details one U.S. bishop's warning about the Biden-Harris ticket.

And, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Of course, these two things are incompatible: you cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion.

And, a "Catholic" politician's responsibility in this regard is absolute: On pain of serious sin, he or she can never promote abortion because abortion is the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings, and also because doing so causes grave scandal to the Church and the faithful.

Please SIGN this urgent petition asking the bishops of the United States to refuse to give Holy Communion to Joe Biden until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

Biden recently promised to “codify Roe v. Wade” as president, adding, "my Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose."

And, since starting his latest run for the presidency, Biden also flip-flopped against the Hyde Amendment, saying that he would allow federal funds to be spent on abortion - a position he claimed to be against for more than 40 years.

In short, Joe Biden will do everything in his power to enable and defend the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings.

So, this should not be a hard decision for our U.S. bishops. In fact, in another circumstance, it was already done by an Illinois bishop.

Indeed, Bishop Paprocki, of Springfield, Illinois, invoked Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law to withdraw Holy Communion from two Illinois state politicians who had worked to enact radical new abortion legislation in 2019.

Canon 915 states: "Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

Of course, no-one, least of all the bishops, wants anyone to be deprived of Holy Communion.

A politician who publicly and obstinately advocates for the murder of innocent preborn babies puts himself out-of-communion with the Church and her teaching. 

Pro-abortion politicians should not think that they can advocate for the murder of the unborn and receive the Body of Christ at the same time. This would be to defile the Eucharist while giving scandal to the faithful.

Depriving politicians of Holy Communion is not just meant to prevent scandal; it is also designed to bring a grave public sinner to repentance. In this way, such an action is meant to be for the good of their souls, too.

Thank you for SIGNING this urgent petition which calls on the U.S. Catholic bishops to refuse to admit Joe Biden to Holy Communion until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Joe Biden: I support abortion ‘under any circumstance’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/joe-biden-i-support-abortion-under-any-circumstance

Catholic priest denies Joe Biden Holy Communion for pro-abortion stance - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-priest-denies-joe-biden-holy-communion-for-pro-abortion-stance

Cardinal McCarrick and the Concealing of Rome’s Position on Denying Communion  - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-mccarrick-and-the-concealing-of-romes-position-on-denying-communio

**Photo Credit: Joshua Roberts / Getty Images

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Gregory is known for his “progressive” views, and has a long history of heterodoxy, of undermining pro-life efforts, and promoting the views of LGBTQ advocates such as Fr. James Martin. He is also a vocal critic of President Trump, notably criticizing the president’s long-planned June visit to St. John Paul II National Shrine in the nation’s capital.

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