Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wants to stop Catholics from attending Mass.
She took this position after San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone called for San Francisco Mayor London Breed to amend her policy on church attendance. Breed said churches can reopen at 25 percent capacity but that only one person at a time is allowed inside churches to pray.
Pelosi not only supports this policy, she lambasted Archbishop Cordileone for protesting it. She lectured him, saying, "we should follow science on this." But she never shared her so-called scientific findings.
The archbishop was forthright in challenging the "one-person at a time" edict on prayer.
"Does that make sense to you: one person indoors at a time in a church?" he asked. "Is there a rational basis? Nobody has given me a rational basis for that."
Not Pelosi, not Breed—no one has offered any rational explanation for this outrageous abridgement of religious liberty.
Robert Siegel, a Stanford University infectious disease specialist, tried to justify the policy by saying it is okay for people to shop in stores but not okay to go to church.
"People in places of worship tend to be vocalizing more and vocalizing louder by singing. They tend to be in contact with each other for longer periods of time."
Siegel is wrong.
I went to Mass yesterday and, like every week during the pandemic, there was no singing, no talking of any kind. Furthermore, no one was sitting next to someone else, unless they were a family member. Blue tape was put across the pews: parishioners could only sit in designated areas. The Mass lasted 35-40 minutes.
Afterwards, I went to the supermarket. There were many more people there than were in church, and no social distancing was practiced. Moreover, I spent at least as much time in the store as I did in church. In addition, there was absolutely no vocalizing in the church (except for the priest), but there was plenty of chatter in the supermarket.
Mayor Breed allows shoppers to go to huge supermarkets and hardware stores, and to wait in line without social distancing. Pelosi gets her hair done at an indoor salon, violating the same law she says applies to everyone else. In mid-August, she called back the Congress, never explaining how coronavirus protocols were to be observed.
Archbishop Cordileone knows what is at stake, which is why he mobilized over 1,000 Catholics yesterday to partake in a Eucharistic Procession on the streets of San Francisco. More bishops should follow suit.
As he said last week, "our fundamental rights do not come from the state...they come from God." He made it clear that he respects "legitimate authority" and recognizes that "government has a right to impose reasonable public health rules." But he hastens to add that "when government asserts authority over the church's very right to worship, it crosses a line."
We are asking everyone to show their support for Archbishop Cordileone by signing a petition asking Mayor Breed to lift the restrictions. To do so, click here.
Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of eight books and many articles.