Christians fight back against restrictions, plan to fill churches for Christmas
December 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A campaign called “Christmas Day Uprising” is urging all Christians in the United States “to fill our churches once again on Christmas Day,” even though this is likely to violate both state and church orders limiting the capacity at worship services.
Still, the campaign is not calling for a violent or unlawful action. In fact, its goals are protected both by the canon law of the Catholic Church and by the American constitution.
“As Catholics and Americans, we have the canonical and constitutional right to freely worship,” the campaign states.
Canon 213 of the Church’s canon law states: “The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments.”
It is followed by Canon 214, which reads: “The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church.”
The group also points to the constitutional right to worship, which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court ruling in favor of freedom of worship, and against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s restrictions on places of worship.
“Even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten,” wrote the Supreme Court. “The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty.”
It is this canonical and constitutional freedom which the “Christmas Day Uprising” campaign appeals to: “But freedom comes with requirements … We are calling on all Christians to fill our churches once again on Christmas Day.”
The return of worshipers to church at the great feast of Christmas is an act of worship to God first, the website states. “We will worship the Savior of the World on His birth by disobeying civil and Church authorities who would contest our freedom to do so. Our simple protest mirrors the simplicity of our Savior.”
The goal of the group is to “[exceed] the state-mandated attendance limits at your church on Christmas Day.” This can be done safely: “We can fill airplanes safely; we can fill the churches too.”
In order to achieve the goal, the group asks people to “coordinate [and] inform your priest, don’t sign up for Mass, and make the church and state listen.” A flyer is attached in order for people to make the campaign widely known, and worshipers are prompted to use the social media hashtag #ChristmasDayUprising.
The move to return to fill churches at Christmas is contrasted by the rules put in place by many bishops across the world, often stricter than government mandates.
The bishops of Ireland encouraged Catholics to stay home over Christmas and to watch Mass online.
Their Advent message mentioned that “it will be impossible for our usual large congregations to assemble for Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day,” adding that “we strongly encourage families to ‘tune in’ from the ‘domestic churches’ of their living rooms and join with those who are gathering in their local churches in welcoming the birth of the Christ-child.”
Families were prompted to visit the churches over the longer Christmas period. The bishops even suggested that people make an “Act of Perfect Contrition” instead of going to confession, since parishioners might not be able to “safely avail of the sacrament.”
However, in an open letter published in May, Catholic clergy, led by former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Cardinals Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Joseph Zen, and Janis Pujats reminded politicians around the world that “the 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.
Archbishop Viganò also mentioned in a recent talk to the Catholic Identity Conference that “obedience ceases to be a virtue and, in fact, becomes servility if it is an end in itself and if it contradicts the purpose to which it is ordained, namely Faith and Morals.”