The diocese claims that the new regulations reducing the capacity of the churches violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
New York (October 11, 2020, Gaudium Press) — In New York, the Church goes on the offensive. More precisely in Brooklyn. It has sued the state governor, Andrew Cuomo, claiming that his new rules, reducing the capacity of the churches, violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion.
The Diocese had no other choice
“The executive orders this week have left us with no other option than to go to court,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn said in a statement.
“We vehemently disagree with the capacity limits being placed on us. They are disrespectful to Catholics who have only been abiding by the rules,” he added. “We do not agree with such limitations because they completely disregard the fact that our safety protocols have worked.”
Some Brooklyn parishes are located in what has been called the “red zone”; therefore cannot receive more than 10 parishioners per Eucharist. Those in the “orange zone” can receive up to 25 parishioners, and those in the “yellow zone” are open at 50 percent of the Church’s capacity.
The diocese also states that the boroughs where these restrictions have been established “have played an inconsequential role in the hot spot zone COVID-19 spikes”
The Diocese of Brooklyn has retained a well-known law firm, Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher. The firm has appointed litigation attorney Randy M. Mastro.
“Public officials have a sacred duty to do right by those they serve, but this is simply wrong and wrong-headed,” Mastro said in a statement. “If this latest executive order stands, parishioners won’t be able to go to Mass this Sunday, even though the diocese has done everything right to ensure safe conditions in its churches.”
Church protocols are not known to have worked
Governor Cuomo’s executive order denies the community “its most fundamental right — the free exercise of religion –for no legitimate reason whatsoever,” continued attorney Mastro. “That’s why we’ve gone to court — to prevent this injustice from occurring — so we’re asking the court to block this executive order from going into effect as applied to the diocese’s churches.”
The diocese also affirms that the state “has completely disregarded the fact that our safety protocols have worked and it is an insult to once again penalize all those who have made the safe return to church work.”
With information from CNS