- Apr 4, 2020
Despite state and local limits on public gatherings, some houses of worship have persisted in holding in-person services — a matter of religious freedom, they say, as the nation approached its fourth Sunday battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite a news blackout, it’s not difficult to guess what was on the agenda for Monday’s conversation between Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and it can be summarized in two words: “Now” and “then.”
The Italian government has issued new regulations for access to religious venues, specifying that weddings and baptisms are permitted for tightly limited groups but that merely going to church is not a legitimate reason to be out of one’s home.
Amid Italy’s strict lockdown due to the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, police in recent days have slapped both priests and worshippers gathering at church to pray with citations for breaking quarantine rules, sparking concern among some about limitations this places of freedom of worship.
A United Nations report addressing gender-based violence and discrimination connected to religious beliefs “is now attacking the very reality it is called to defend,” a Vatican representative told a U.N. meeting in Geneva.
“You’ve just ruled yourself out of a whole bunch of investment if you’ve given in to this monochromatic view of religion, that it has to be this and everybody else we punish,” said U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.