Featured Image
California State Governor Gavin Newsom May 31, 2020Matt Gush /

PETITION: Tell politicians not to discriminate against churches when reopening society! Sign the petition here.

SACRAMENTO, California, July 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Amid a surge in new cases of COVID-19, Democrat California Gov. Gavin Newsom has once again banned worship services inside churches in 29 counties. During a press conference on Monday, Newsom hinted that some of the new restrictions might stay in place until a vaccine is developed.

“We’re seeing an increase in the spread of the virus, so that’s why it’s incumbent upon all of us to recognize soberly that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon until there is a vaccine or an effective therapy,” he said.

Newsom ordered all counties in California to close indoor operations for dine-in restaurants, movie theaters, zoos, museums, as well as places like bowling alleys. “Additionally, bars, brewpubs, breweries, and pubs must close all operations both indoor and outdoor statewide, unless they are offering sit-down, outdoor dine-in meals. Alcohol can only be sold in the same transaction as a meal.”

Currently, 29 counties are ordered to stop indoor worship services. Indoor protests are banned, as well, whereas protests could still take place outdoors. Also, malls, fitness centers, and several other industries are not allowed to open.

The state of California pointed out that the “industries or activities” banned in 29 counties “can be modified to operate outside or by pickup.” As far as religious services are concerned, churches and parishes could, for instance, offer parking lot services.

The list of 29 counties includes Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, and Orange – all in the Los Angeles area. San Diego, just north of the border to Mexico, is also affected. Sacramento County, where the California capital is located, is also on the list. Notable absences include San Francisco County and Alameda County, of which Oakland is a part.

Even though San Francisco County is not on the list, the city and county of San Francisco had threatened the local archdiocese, headed by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, with a temporary restraining order over its alleged non-compliance with coronavirus-related orders by Health Officer Tomás J. Aragón.

City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera demanded to confirm by the end of June “that the Archdiocese will cease offering indoor religious services, except for funerals with up to 12 attendees and except for live streaming as described above; and further that the Face Covering requirements and Social Distancing Requirements of those orders will be followed at all outdoor services.”

The Archdiocese of San Francisco later bowed to the local government’s orders

Father Joseph Illo, a priest in San Francisco, commented on his blog, “Clearly some people in the city government and the news media find religion intolerable. They hate religion.”

“They may hate religion, and they may hate religious persons,” he added. “They may not restrict our rights as free American citizens.”

The archdiocese’s safety protocols for reopening public Masses, which were published June 6, stated, “In charity to all and in consideration of public health and safety, those attending Mass must wear a mask.” Additionally, “The six-foot distance rule must be strictly enforced,” with each church preparing “distanced pews in accordance with the social distancing guidelines.”

The largest diocese in the United States, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, had allowed public Masses in early June, provided social distancing was maintained. “Pastors should establish a written plan for resuming operations in the church building to be shared with employees and volunteers,” the archdiocese demanded. “This plan should include how he will maintain the state mandated limit of 25 percent of building capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is lower.”

The archdiocese had also banned the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue.

Even though parishes across the archdiocese of Los Angeles had complied with the state government’s earlier demands, they are now forced to cancel public Masses once again, or, at best, move them outside.

“In following this newly-issued state order, the Cathedral will be closed to the public for 8 am Mass and for private prayer effective today until further notice,” announced the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles on its website. “Our daily 8:00 am Mass will continue to be available via livestream only. Given the fluidity and uncertainty of the current crisis, we cannot determine the duration of the closure at this time. We will update this page as we have more information.”