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Minnesota Catholic, Lutheran bishops to gov: We’re opening up regardless of your order – live updates

Live updates on the coronavirus crisis and how it relates to pro-life issues, faith, and freedom.
Fri May 22, 2020 - 4:48 pm EST
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St. Paul Cathedral in St. Paul, Minn. shutterstock.com

LifeSite’s previous (and future) live updates on the coronavirus crisis and how it relates to issues our readers care about can be viewed HERE.

May 20, 2020, 7:21 p.m. EST: BREAKING: The Minnesota Catholic Conference and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in Minnesota sent Governor Tim Walz separate letters today announcing that they will resume worship services on May 26 despite Governor Walz’s current COVID-19 executive order which allows retailers to operate at 50 percent capacity but caps church worship services at ten people (more information on the letters is below).

May 22, 2020, 4:48 p.m. EST: This afternoon, President Trump demanded states allow churches to re-open. He said:

“Today I am identifying houses of worship – churches, synagogue, mosques – as essential places that provide essential services. Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential. I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If there’s any question, they’re gonna have to call me, but they’re not gonna be successful in that call.

These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united. The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue, go to their mosque – many millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life.

The ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams, and other faith leaders will make sure that their congregations are safe as they gather and pray. I know them well. They love their congregations. They love their people. They don’t want anything bad to happen to them or to anybody else. The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America, we need more prayer, not less.”

May 22, 2020, 1:28 p.m. EST: LifeSite’s petition against a mandatory coronavirus vaccine has surged past half a million signatures.

Cardinal Raymond Burke spoke against a mandatory vaccine at the 2020 Rome Life Forum, which is being held online.

“There is a certain movement to insist that now everyone must be vaccinated against the coronavirus,” he said.

The cardinal also mentioned that some groups suggest “a kind of microchip needs to be placed under the skin of every person, so that at any moment he or she can be controlled by the State regarding health and about other matters which we can only imagine.”

A state mandating vaccinations or even microchips “violates the integrity of its citizens,” said Burke. “While the State can provide reasonable regulations for the safeguarding of health, it is not the ultimate provider of health. God is. Whatever the State proposes must respect God and His Law.”

President Trump says he wants churches to reopen.

500 doctors have warned the president that there will be “millions of casualties” if the shutdowns continue.

May 21, 2020, 2:24 p.m. EST: Recent LifeSiteNews coverage of the coronavirus crisis includes:

The 2020 Rome Life ForumCoronavirus in the Light of Fatima: A Tragedy and a Source of Hope is happening online right now. It is free to participate. LifeSiteNews will have additional coverage of the event this week.

Reason reported yesterday, “Developments abroad put a damper on hopes that U.S. life will return to normal soon. Areas of Argentina, Germany, Iran, and elsewhere have seen COVID-19 cases surge again after starting to ease shutdown rules. Now, authorities in these places are once again tightening the screws on citizens' movement, fraternization, and economic activity.”

May 21, 2020, 12:48 p.m. EST: FOX News reported yesterday:

More than 600 doctors signed onto a letter sent to President Trump Tuesday pushing him to end the “national shutdown” aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, calling the widespread state orders keeping businesses closed and kids home from school a “mass casualty incident” with “exponentially growing health consequences.”

The letter outlines a variety of consequences that the doctors have observed resulting from the coronavirus shutdowns, including patients missing routine checkups that could detect things like heart problems or cancer, increases in substance and alcohol abuse, and increases in financial instability that could lead to “[p]overty and financial uncertainty,” which “is closely linked to poor health.”

A Mississippi church suing its city over the coronavirus lockdown has been destroyed by arson.

May 20, 2020, 7:21 p.m. EST: BREAKING: The Minnesota Catholic Conference and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod in Minnesota sent Governor Tim Walz separate letters today announcing that they will resume worship services on May 26 despite Governor Walz’s current COVID-19 executive order which allows retailers to operate at 50 percent capacity but caps church worship services at ten people.

Governor Walz’s latest re-opening order allows the Mall of America to open its doors to those seeking retail therapy but disallows churches from providing spiritual healing to their congregations. At the same time, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty sent Governor Tim Walz and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison a legal letter explaining why continuing to keep churches closed violates the First Amendment. Also representing the Catholic and Lutheran Churches is global law firm Sidley Austin LLP.

Becket explained in a press release:

On May 13, 2020, Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order with guidelines for reopening commerce in the State of Minnesota. The order allows malls, shops, and other retailers to open their doors at fifty percent capacity, allows businesses—from pet-grooming services to medical cannabis operations—to resume in-person operations, and even announces a phased plan for reopening bars and restaurants, but explicitly leaves in place bans on in-person worship services for more than ten people. Even Minnesota casinos are reopening starting May 26. After weeks of dialogue with Governor Walz to try to achieve equal treatment for houses of worship, today the Catholic and Lutheran Churches announced that they would resume worship services for their congregations at thirty-three percent capacity on Tuesday, May 26, with Pentecost Sunday, May 31, as the first day of Sunday services. The churches have committed to instituting rigorous social distancing and hygiene protocols to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Darkness and despair have taken hold of so many of our fellow Americans in the face of the economic and social hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Archbishop Hebda. “Faith has always been a source of comfort and strength and now more than ever it is of the utmost importance that we are able to meet the spiritual needs of our community.”

Since the beginning of Minnesota’s stay-at-home order suicide hotlines have seen spikes in calls as high as 300 percent in parts of the State, as well as a 25 percent increase in calls about domestic violence. Millions of Americans seek comfort and strength in their faith communities, which also serve as safe spaces for victims of domestic violence and those suffering with addictions.

“Throughout this crisis, we have been committed to modeling Christ’s love by protecting people from the spread of illness. That’s why it is so disheartening that the Governor has subordinated our spiritual well-being to the economic well-being of the State,” said Rev. Dr. Lucas Woodford, president of the Minnesota South District of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. “Now that the State has deemed the risk of spreading coronavirus low enough to reopen non-essential business, we respectfully believe that it is our right and duty to safely resume public ministry to the faithful even without the support of the Governor.”

In March, well before statewide stay-at-home orders came into effect, both the Minnesota Catholic Conference and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod voluntarily suspended in-person worship services to preserve the health and safety of their communities. On May 7, and again on May 16 the churches presented Governor Walz with proposed protocols for resuming in-person worship services in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization and United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If malls, casinos, liquor stores, bars, and restaurants are reopening, why can’t Minnesota churches?” said Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at Becket. “Our Constitution stands for ‘equal justice under law’ and imposing a special disability on churches is anything but. Governor Walz and Attorney General Ellison should ensure equal treatment for churches and houses of worship—especially because they are crucial to helping our nation overcome this crisis.

May 19, 2020, 11:37 a.m. EST: Trump has given the World Health Organization (WHO) 30 days to reform or it will permanently lose U.S. funding.

“The only way forward for the World Health Organization is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China,” he said in a letter to the pro-abortion United Nations entity. “I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organization that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America’s interests.”

May 19, 2020, 9:59 a.m. EST: Recent LifeSiteNews coverage of the coronavirus crisis includes:

May 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump has revealed he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, the drug some doctors say has been highly effective at treating the coronavirus, for “a few weeks.” The drug is normally prescribed to treat malaria, arthritis, and lupus. He has also been taking a zinc supplement. The president has repeatedly tested negative for the coronavirus but is taking the drugs as a prophylactic.

A cafe in Germany is providing patrons with pool noodles to wear on their heads to aid in “social distancing.”

People who try to swim at public beaches over Memorial Day weekend will be “taken right out of the water,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. He also said lifeguards are banned from being on duty. It is unclear who will be tasked with extracting swimmers.

The Associated Press reports:

A county judge has declared Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s coronavirus restrictions “null and void” because she didn’t have her emergency orders approved by the Legislature.

Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff made the ruling Monday in a lawsuit brought by churches that had sued saying the social-distancing directives were unconstitutional.

Brown said she would immediately appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court to try to keep the emergency orders in effect.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar said on CNN that “in places that are opening, we're not seeing this spike in cases." 

“We still see spikes in some areas that are, in fact, closed,” he added.

Breitbart reports:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during Monday’s “America’s Newsroom” on Fox News Channel revealed that at President Donald Trump’s request, he has delivered “an extremely stern warning” to the World Health Organization in regards to its handling of the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Azar said his message included a call for “significant structural reform” in the organization, adding the W.H.O. and China need “to be held accountable” for their actions that allowed the virus to spread around the world.

According to Axios, Trump “declined an invitation to address a virtual gathering of the World Health Organization, which proceeded today with addresses from several world leaders but only a blistering rebuke from the U.S.”

China's President Xi Jinping accepted an invitation to speak at the gathering.

The pro-abortion World Health Organization is a United Nations entity. Its connections to communist China are currently under scrutiny, and Trump has frozen U.S. funding to it.

The Epoch Times has a list of where all 50 states and the District of Columbia are in their lockdowns or easing of them.

Idaho, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, and South Carolina are among the freer states.

California, Illinois, Washington, D.C., New Mexico, New York, Hawaii, and Washington state are among the least free.

Massachusetts churches are allowed to open at 40 percent capacity now. “Places of worship are encouraged to modify communal rituals, like taking communion or passing of the peace, so as to limit contact with others,” its government health guidelines urge. “Consider distributing, where applicable, prepackaged communion or sacraments.”

Correction 05-20-2020 21:25 EDT: St. Paul’s Cathedral is in St. Paul, not Minneapolis. LifeSite regrets the error.


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