The radical mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, has for months enforced an extreme crackdown on people of faith, effectively prohibiting them from church attendance. She claims this is necessary to protect public health, but there are few restrictions on other activities in the city, such as shopping at Nordstrom, participating in Black Lives Matter protests, purchasing marijuana at pot shops, or frequenting liquor stores. The city’s infamous massage parlors are even reopened for business.
It’s obvious to any observer that Mayor Breed is demonstrating anti-religious bigotry in her arbitrary orders. The Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, led by one of the strongest, most influential Bishops of the Church in America, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, has tried mightily to comply with Breed’s orders, but has found it virtually impossible to do so. The city’s Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption can hold over 1,000 mass goers and still comply with social distancing guidelines, but Mayor Breed has prohibited virtually every indoor mass. Outdoor masses have been limited to just 12 people.
Archbishop Cordileone recently organized four simultaneous outside masses on the Cathedral plaza, each with 12 participants. This was intended to provide some limited sense of community, but more importantly to illustrate the absurdity of Mayor Breed’s orders.
The Archbishop also created FreetheMass.com, through which nearly 5,000 people have signed a petition to Mayor Breed demanding that she restore the right of San Franciscans to worship according to the tenets of their faith. In response, Breed increased the permissible number of outdoor church goers to 50, and issued some vague comments that she might allow indoor church service at some point in the future.
That has only served to further agitate the faithful as they realize that they are being singled out for punishment because of their belief in God. In response, Archbishop Cordileone is planning eucharistic processions this coming Sunday, Sept. 20. Participants will march to the UN Plaza next to City Hall “to witness to the city that faith matters.” Following the demonstration, participants will process in unison to the Cathedral where multiple outdoor masses will be celebrated on the plaza. Masses will be celebrated in English, Spanish and Chinese. Those in attendance will wear masks and practice social distancing.
In a memorandum to Diocesan priests, Archbishop Cordileone said, “We can’t be silent any longer” about “punitive” restrictions on indoor mass attendance. “Believers are being singled out for uniquely punitive treatment. We cannot simply standby while our people are treated with this lack of compassion for their needs, and this lack of respect for their rights.”
Earlier in the week, in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, Archbishop Cordileone explained that he had presented the City with substantial evidence showing that those who attend mass at churches that follow public health guidelines – opening windows, proper sanitizing, seating in every other pew – have experienced no outbreaks of COVD-19 linked to church attendance. He said the city of San Francisco had ignored the evidence he had presented.
The Archbishop has established a strategy committee of religious and lay people to advise him on future actions “on how we can best make our voice heard in a peaceful but forceful way.”