NEW YORK (AP) – The longest-time head of the Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn said on Friday that the Supreme Court delivered a ruling barring New York from imposing certain restrictions on religious services in areas hardened by coronoviruses Is a good decision. Guarantees constitutional protection for the free practice of religion.
The High Court on Wednesday late night banned collectively with the Diocese of Brooklyn and other religious organizations in New York State and barred New York from enforcing the ban against groups. In an unlawful opinion, the Supreme Court said the ban is “out of homes of worship for particularly harsh treatment.” The groups said the state action had limited presence for religious worshipers, while other businesses in state-designated red areas could remain open without capacity limitations.
“Right now, we see it as a good decision, realizing that First Amendment rights are far more powerful than the right for anyone to shop,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in an interview with The Associated Press.
DiMarzio also praised the words of Pope Francis, who criticized groups opposing COVID-19 restrictions in a New York Times Opinion Peace published on Thursday.
“I think the Pope’s words are wonderful. I don’t think we protested. I don’t think we’ve ever disregarded the rules that were imposed on us, except that we differed on the number of people who could go into a building. According to some regulations, some separate meetings were held in Brooklyn and Queens, “AP reported. “He refused to take precautions. That was not our case. We complied with everything we were asked to do. ”
“So, I think that’s a big difference. I don’t think those words of the Pope really apply to us – it’s not an ideological issue. It’s not anti-government, but it’s looking at the First Amendment That people have the right to worship when it is possible. “
New York City became an early American hot spot of the epidemic and became concentrated in the deadliest Brooklyn and Queens, with some of the city’s most hit areas.
The two boroughs already named red and orange zones have churches and synagogues near Brooklyn in the US and the Diocese of Agudat Israel. The state had put a cap on the worship of 10 people in the red areas and the presence of 25 people in the orange areas. But those areas are now designated as yellow areas with less restrictive rules, with neither group being challenged.
Andrew Cuomo of the New York government has said the court’s decision is “irrelevant to any practical effect”, noting that the sanctions have already been lifted. Cuomo also said that a 5-4 ruling, in a majority vote with new judge Amy Connie Barrett, is more about demonstrating that the High Court has changed its stripes. But DiMarzio disagreed.
“Cuomo) said the court changed its decision because it is politically convenient, it has nothing to do with it” DiMarzio said. “The Supreme Court changes its position several times.”
Churches under the Diocese of Brooklyn were greatly hit and the epidemic suffered many losses. The Rev. George Ortiz-Garay, pastor of St. Brigid’s Church in Brooklyn, was the first Catholic cleric in America to die of coronovirus.. By July, St. Bartholomew’s Roman Catholic Church in Queens reported that at least 74 parishioners had died of COIDID-19..
DiMarzio stated that Ortiz-Garay and Rev. Gioacchino Basile, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, who was working as pastor of St. Gabriel’s Church in East Elmhurst, contracted before issuing regulations to protect against the virus as to how to prevent an epidemic.
“So, you shouldn’t be on it. After that with the idea of St. Bartholomew, for example: It doesn’t mean they got sick in church. It means they got sick.”
DiMarzio said it closed churches 10 days before an order by the governor and was delayed a week after the removal of that order in July. “So, I think we have been overly cautious …” he said. According to the church’s pastor, a Brooklyn spokesman said that St. Bartholomew had not reported any new deaths since July.
The 18-point precautions in churches in Brooklyn and Queens under the Diocese’s jurisdiction include regularly cleaning churches, all wearing masks for the entire Mass, and maintaining social distance. Members of the clergy must also consecrate their hands before Mass, while congregations cannot exchange peace or hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer, and must be given to the Holy Communion at hand. DiMarzio also stated that all mass is live-streamed and in-person services are capped at around 50% capacity.
“Look, we were the epicenter at the beginning of this. Now, we are the best. From the worst we became the best because of the restrictions and the way people followed them, ”he said, adding that the rules issued by Cuomo have been called highly restrictive.
“The 25 people who hold 500 and 1,000 people in churches is the root of the case, because we were designated to be non-essential. So, we were put up with theaters and bowling alleys and other things, which were entertaining, and not with something necessary as a church. “
DiMarzio expects the Christmas season to be challenging but necessary for believers after a long epidemic.
“People want to go to Mass on Christmas. Children need to see the natural and bring it out, sometimes in different churches. So, we are trying to get that ready safely again, ”he said.
Associated Press religion coverage is supported from the Lily Endowment through the Religion News Foundation. AP is fully responsible for this content.