The Federal Court of Switzerland located in Lausanne has definitively established the right of the Catholic Mass in the canton of Geneva by protecting it against the interference of arbitrary restrictions by the cantonal state.
During the health crisis caused by the pandemic, the Geneva Council of State – the cantonal executive – prohibited “religious services and other religious events accessible to the public,” by an order dated November 1, 2020.
Contesting this ban, the local head of the Society of Saint Pius X, Fr. Jean de Loÿe, prior of the Oratory of Saint Joseph in Carouge, filed an administrative law appeal on November 6 asking for suspension of the measure.
This appeal pointed out that the decree directly undermined the celebration of Mass and the reception of the Holy Eucharist, essential elements of Catholic life, as well as the freedom of worship guaranteed by the constitution of the canton.
On December 4, 2020, the Constitutional Chamber of the Court of Justice, to which this appeal had been transmitted, granted suspensive relief, because “the disputed measure constitutes a potentially serious attack on religious freedom, because it had a quasi-absolute character.”
In addition, the chamber noted “that it has not been demonstrated that places of worship had constituted particular sources of contamination.” Finally, and above all, the decision “posed a serious problem with the principle of proportionality,” it was added. But the fundamental problem was not yet solved.
The decree of the constitutional chamber of the canton of Geneva
On May 6, 2021, the constitutional chamber, to which the case had been refered, produced a new decree. This new decision definitively canceled the ban on Mass, described as “unjustified interference” by the Council of State.
This decision did justice to the Mass against an arbitrary political decision that disrespected the fundamental rights of Catholics to their Sunday practice.
It was a new victory for the Mass in this canton once ruled with an iron fist by Calvin, one of the fiercest enemies of the Catholic faith.
However, the canton of Geneva did not consider itself beaten. It then appealed to the Federal Court of the Swiss Confederation, located in Lausanne. The Federal Court delivered its judgment on March 8, 2022 concerning the appeal of the Geneva Council of State against the judgment of the Constitutional Chamber. The appeal is deemed inadmissible.
Thus, the “mass” judgment of the constitutional chamber is definitively confirmed, at least for the canton of Geneva. If the federal court decides to publish it and classify it as a “landmark case,” it will then establish precedence for all of Switzerland.
The press release from the Priory of St. Francis de Sales in Geneva particularly and “warmly thanks Mr. Yves Nidegger for his fruitful work and desires more than ever the radiance of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ renewed at each Mass.”