French authorities want punishments for Catholics praying in front of churches
This week in France, there are more calls to pray in front of closed churches. Last Sunday, such prayer gatherings were held in Versailles and Nantes, among other places. Now the "For the Mass" movement not only encourages public prayers but rejects the orders of the French ministry and its threats of fines.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced on television that the police would fine Catholics who gather in front of the churches on Sunday the 15th of November to pray together. The “For the Mass” movement believes such police action is illegal.
The actions of Catholics are related to the general ban on participating in services, and Holy Masses celebrated in churches. The authorities introduced the ban on the grounds of the difficult health situation related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The dispute has continued since the Council of State rejected the request of lay Catholics to be able to participate to the Mass in churches with distancing and sanitary measures. It is difficult for the faithful to understand why people can go to supermarkets, crowd in the subway and public transport, yet they are supposed to transmit infection in churches,— where all rules have been followed since the first wave of the pandemic.
Lay Catholics across the country have called for public prayers in front of closed churches. People prayed not only in Versailles and Nantes, but also in Bordeaux, Metz, Nice, Vichy, Tours, Clermont-Ferrand, and in Paris itself. More than forty notifications of such prayers in public places were submitted to the authorities under the rules of the so-called social distance.