Easter in a church emptied. Or, at least, that is the spirit of point 11 of the Royal Decree that the Government approved on March 14 and which supposed the entry into force of the Alarm State in Spain. A text, agreed with the Episcopal Conference in which, without officially closing the churches – many remain open for those believing workers who want to stop to pray – masses with the public were prevented.
Almost all of the bishops – with the now classic exception of the Bishop of Alcalá, Juan Antonio Reig Plá, who continues to allow mass in his diocese with the public – and the vast majority of priests are behaving responsibly, while maintaining temples closed, either offering masses ‘behind closed doors’, with the presence of essential personnel for the celebration, and broadcasting ceremonies on social networks or the ecclesially owned media.
However, the Police have had to intervene in at least a dozen temples, which have made a little rigorous interpretation of the regulations, or have directly broken the law. This has happened in different temples in Seville, Almería, Cádiz or Córdoba, as well as in Alcalá de Henares, where the bishop has imposed his decision, even above that of the agents of authority, taking refuge in the inviolability of the temples collected in the Church-State Agreements. The last case, in Granada, where the Police had to remind Archbishop Javier Martínez that about twenty faithful were not allowed to attend the offices on Good Friday. The parishioners left, not without first taking communion, and without being fined.
In other corners, such as Valladolid or San Sebastián, it must have been the bishops themselves who had to remind their priests that religious services, if carried out, should be behind closed doors and not with a minimal community (of the faithful) but with the members of the parish, who are the parish priests and monitors, indispensable to celebrate them. Not at all suspicious of sympathizing with the socialist government, José Ignacio Munilla – the only bishop fined for skipping confinement, being caught in his car with a co-pilot – has had to write to his priests so that “there are no errors of interpretation” and do not do mass with the public, even if it is behind closed doors.
Without respecting the distance or wearing masks
This was not the case in Cádiz, where the law enforcement agencies had to evict the church of San Servando and San Germán on April 3, when the mass was being celebrated, which was attended by a fortnight of faithful, who did not keep the distance of security of a meter, and they did not have preventive material (gloves or masks), as established by the standard.
More controversy caused this Palm Sunday the interruption of a mass in Seville, in a joint device of the Local and National police. In this case, it was a group of at least nine friars who were celebrating the Eucharist on the roof of a building in the Triana neighborhood. The celebration in a common area violates the decree of the State of Alarm. “There were at least nine people, and a mass was being celebrated,” the police report, which indicates that the mass was “interrupted.” The Police had received several complaints from the neighbors, who added that the monks had installed a public address system so that the rest of the neighborhood could hear – whether they wanted to or not – the mass.
A practice prohibited by the Archdiocese of Seville itself, which in a circular stated that the Eucharist “can be done inside the precincts, without parishioners, and retransmitted by streaming“, as” all the Sevillian churches are doing it “.
Masses televised with the public
In Córdoba, there have been at least three cases of suspicious masses, with the presence of the faithful. In the church of San José de Puente Genil, the Police have initiated a sanction file against the parish priest and the people who skipped the confinement to attend a mass that, to make matters worse, was going to be broadcast on municipal television. In Albendín (Baena), the Police had to interrupt a mass in the parish of Santa María, also last Palm Sunday, which was held behind closed doors, but allowing several parishioners to enter. In El Carpio, the Civil Guard is investigating some WhatsApp images in which a Eucharist offered by the parish priest is observed, which was attended by around twenty people.
In Almería, several vehicles of the National Police appeared at the open doors of the Santiago church. After a conversation with the parish priest, it was determined that the faithful would leave the mass, leaving the priest finishing mass with only one person helping him.
In other cases, the blood does not reach the river, as in the cathedral of Valladolid itself, where on March 22 security agents prevented about twenty faithful, mostly of advanced age, from congregating at the side entrance of the temple before the beginning of the Eucharist, which was finally suspended.
Christian Lawyers denounces the Government
In all cases, the heads of the diocese have assured that they “will do their best” to comply with the regulations. However, police action has been used by the lobby ultra-Catholic to launch a new campaign of alleged “persecution” of the socialist government against the Church.
Thus, the association Ultra Christian Lawyers announced last Thursday the presentation of a complaint against the Police and the Government Delegations of Andalusia, Castilla y León and Murcia for the interruptions of religious ceremonies that have taken place in Cádiz, Seville, Valladolid and Murcia during the Alarm State.
Specifically, the ultra group accuses those responsible for the Government and the Police of a possible crime of “interruption of worship” contained in Article 523 of the Penal Code, considering that the policemen who carried out these operations acted in compliance with their instructions. . And it goes much further. Its president, Polonia Castellanos, maintains that “this is a religious persecution. The reiteration shows that it is not a coincidence. The government is taking advantage of the Alarm State to end religious freedom.”
Castellanos assures that “these interruptions of religious ceremonies that have taken place these days are an abuse on the part of the Government, which is using the situation to impose its secularist agenda.”
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