Will you be able to attend a Christmas service? This is the very question believers and government members are wondering about as a meeting with representatives of the cults is to be held this Monday November 16, 2020 at Matignon. Prime Minister Jean Castex is expected to address a message to Catholics who are vigorously against the ban of services during this period.
On that matter, last week, the French Catholic Bishops’ Conference addressed to the Council of State an appeal to ease this ban. This weekend, believers have gathered in many cities in front of churches still open, but providing no services. They had only one demand: giving them back the mess, because they do not want Christmas to be stolen from them. Except that for now, the government’s guiding principle is clear: as long as Covid-19 is not “dramatically” curbed, the lockdown and restrictions are to be sustained and even extended.
After the meeting, Matignon sends a very clear message to the faithful: there will be no mass nor religious ceremonies before stores reopen. Therefore, the future of the masses and other religious ceremonies seems compromised as long as “non-necessary” stores cannot reopen.
What does the French government plans for the Midnight masses? Interviewed by Franceinfo, a councilor from the executive gives further details about the goal of the meeting with representatives of the cults on the matter. “We will give prospects, visibility. The idea is to work on hypothesis” he confirms. In simpler words, it is about detailing conditions required to hold religious ceremonies during the period, or in what event places of worship will have to remain closed to the faithful’s gatherings. Another minister – contacted by Franceinfo – agrees. “We cannot ease up for Christmas if we haven’t reached an acceptable level”.
In the event France would report 5,000 daily infections, we can reasonably imagine a potential easing of measures for places of worship. But the Scientific Committee is just as clear on the topic: it is not likely to reach such a low level before January 2021. Which would definitely cross out the possibility to attend a Midnight mass.
Today, status quo is given pride of place at the Elysée palace and no one dares to bat an eye on the matter. “Emmanuel Macron has a special relationship with cults and spirituality” someone close to the president tells Franceinfo. Furthermore, we can guess the future of masses and religious ceremonies is deeply related to the future of the health situation, and then compliance with health guidelines and different measures. Either way, the head of state and his government are to make a difficult decision: banning masses, family reunions and keeping on lockdown to curb the epidemic, or taking the risk to ease up measures and possibly worsening the situation?