Council of State rejects limit of 30 people for religious celebrations

It was at 11 a.m., the symbolic hour of Sunday mass, that the judge of the summary freedom of the Council of State rendered his decision on Sunday, November 29, urging the government to review its copy. “The ban (of more than thirty people) is disproportionate in relation to the objective of preserving public health and constitutes a serious and manifestly illegal interference with freedom of religion.


During the interim-freedom hearing held the day before at 3 p.m., the Conference of French Bishops and several applicants, including Mgr Michel Aupetit, Archbishop of Paris and Mgr Luc Ravel, Archbishop of Strasbourg, protested against ” maximum gauge ”of thirty people during celebrations, regardless of the capacity of the place of worship in question.

If the administrative judge recognizes that the epidemic ” continues to strain the entire health system ” and ” the need to regulate the conditions of access and presence in establishments of worship is established “, The recent measures implemented by the government were not considered appropriate:” It does not follow from the instruction that the absolute and general prohibition of any religious ceremony of more than thirty people (…) would be justified by the risks which are specific to these ceremonies.

Freedom of celebration

The summary judge finally underlines that the comparison with other closed places such as theaters or cinema, is not justified: ” the activities that are carried out [dans les lieux de culte] are not of the same nature and the fundamental freedoms which are at stake are not the same. “All the more so since freedom of worship, understood as an individual right of every individual” also includes, among its essential components, the right to participate collectively in ceremonies, in particular in places of worship.

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As soon as the decision was announced, the prospect of celebrations without limiting the number of faithful and in compliance with sanitary rules was raised in the various dioceses. There is no doubt that the health situation nevertheless requires strict measures. A protocol had also been devised by the representatives of the cults to allow the reopening of the celebrations with maximum caution.

In a press release, the French Bishops’ Conference believes that “The law has thus been reestablished and reason recognized. However, she hopes that judicial recourse remains the exception in the dialogue with the authorities of our country ”.

Three days

The government must now write new provisions ” by taking strictly proportionate measures to supervise gatherings and meetings in establishments of worship, and this within three days. The meeting already scheduled between the representatives of the religions and the Prime Minister this Sunday, November 29 at 6 pm, could be the occasion for a frank explanation and a concerted preparation of the new provisions.


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