The Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) respond to Italy's Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, regarding “phase 2” of the response to the coronavirus crisis on Sunday, April 26, 2020. Italy’s Bishops’ Conference was concerned about aspects of the government’s plans for “phase 2”. They explained the Church “cannot accept seeing the exercise of freedom of religion compromised”. "New measures are being studied by the government to allow the wider exercise of freedom of worship."
FULL TEXT from the Bishops' Conference of Italy:
The words of the Minister of the Interior, Luciana Lamorgese, in the interview given on Thursday 23 April in Avvenire came after a continuous and available dialogue between the General Secretariat of the CEI, the Ministry and the Prime Minister itself.
An statement which the Church has accepted, with suffering and a sense of responsibility, the government limitations taken to face the health emergency. An statement during which several times it was explicitly underlined that - when the limitations assumed to face the pandemic are reduced - the Church demands to be able to resume its pastoral action.
Now, after these weeks of negotiation that saw the CEI present Guidelines and Protocols with which to face a transitory phase in full compliance with all health standards, the Prime Minister's Decree passed this evening arbitrarily excludes the possibility of celebrating Mass with the people.
The Presidency of the Council and the Technical-Scientific Committee are reminded of the duty to distinguish between their responsibility - giving precise indications of a sanitary nature - and that of the Church, called to organize the life of the Christian community, in compliance with the measures prepared, but in the fullness of one's autonomy.
Italian bishops cannot accept to see the exercise of freedom of worship compromised. It should be clear to everyone that the commitment to service to the poor, so significant in this emergency, arises from a faith that must be able to feed on its sources, in particular sacramental life.