The Catholic archbishop of San Francisco led a protest on Sunday criticizing the city’s restrictions on reopening churches during the coronavirus pandemic.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone delivered an impassioned sermon at an outdoor mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption after a march through the streets, calling for the right to worship indoors.
Cordileone condemned city leaders for allowing retail to operate indoors before houses of worship.
“The City continues to place unrealistic and suffocating restrictions on our natural and constitutional right to worship. This willful discrimination is affecting us all,” Cordileone said in his remarks posted by the church online. “Yes, discrimination, because there is no other word for it. We ask: why can people shop at Nordstrom’s at 25% capacity but only one of you at a time is allowed to pray inside of this great Cathedral, your Cathedral? Is this equality?”
The march started at three separate parish locations around the city, with the groups convening at the City Hall where they were greeted by the archbishop. They then walked en masse to the cathedral.
The city’s current health order allows outdoor services with a maximum of 50 people or one person to be in a church at a time.
In reference to the rules, Cordileone said: “One person at a time in this great Cathedral to pray? What an insult. This is a mockery. They are mocking you, and even worse, they are mocking God.”
The archbishop has hosted masses at the St. Mary’s Church courtyard with worshippers wearing masks and social distancing, but he believes people can also safely worship indoors.
“It’s not that we want to be reckless,” he told ABC 7 News. “We don’t want to endanger public health. We can do it safely and we just want to be unimpeded from doing so.”
Mayor London Breed’s office told ABC indoor worship services may be permitted by the end of the month with 25% capacity.
“We need to continue to follow the guidance of Public Health, but with every step of reopening, we need to remember that the virus is still very much present and we have to move forward safely,” the mayor’s statement read.
Correction: A photo and caption unrelated to this story was mistakenly posted in the original version and has since been deleted.
Amy Graff is the News Editor for SFGATE. Email her: firstname.lastname@example.org.