Thu, 21 Jan 2021

Catholic bishops in France have appealed to the country's top administrative court, the Council of State, to challenge a 30 person limit for religious ceremonies imposed by the government as it begins easing the second Covid-19 lockdown.

The move follows the French government's decision to limit attendance at places of worship as part of its fight to stop the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Conference of Bishops of France (CEF) said its representatives would make their case to increase the numbers allowed for services during a meeting with French prime minister Jean Castex on Sunday evening.

"Pending the outcome of these two steps, the rules set by the prime minister are in force," said a CEF statement. "Even if we are all aware of the great difficulties in which these government decisions place the faithful."

After detailing a range of measures to ensure Catholic services were conducted in a safe environment, there were hopes that more than 30 people would be allowed into masses for one of the key parts of the Christian calendar.

"We are very disappointed," CEF spokesman Father Hugues de Woillemont, told French broadcaster Europe 1.

"We are especially astonished by this gauge of 30 people that we had never asked for and which is really unrealistic. We don't know where this figure comes from."

On Friday, the death toll from the coronavirus in France had reached 51,000 people. There have been more than two million cases of infection since the start of the year.

The government says there will be an easing of the lockdown rules so that shops and businesses can profit from the lucrative Christmas period.

Orginally published on RFI

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