Portugal: Episcopate Decrees Unfair Restrictions

Source: FSSPX News

Fonts baptismaux de la cathédrale de Lisbonne

The Portuguese Bishops’ Conference (CEP) has ordered that celebration of baptisms, confirmations, and marriages be suspended, given the “very serious situation” caused by the Covid-19 epidemic. Directives that go beyond that for which the government has asked.

Decree no.3-A / 2021, signed by the Portuguese Head of State on January 14, 2021, re-confines Portugal for a minimum period of one month. So-called “non-essential” businesses, sports halls, gyms, etc., in particular, are seeing their doors being closed, but churches have the possibility of remaining open to worship.

The civil authorities specify that religious celebrations are not prohibited, subject to respecting the health protocol previously defined in May during the first confinement.

It was left up to the episcopate to set the concrete modalities relating to worship for this new confinement.

The episcopate reacted immediately, declaring itself “to be particularly aware of the worsening of the pandemic, demanding greater responsibility and solidarity from all.”

The Bishops’ Conference explains that, given the decisions of the public authorities, the Mass and funeral rites may still take place, but that “other celebrations, such as baptisms, confirmations, and marriages, will have to be suspended and postponed to a more opportune moment, when the health situation allows it.” Restrictions that go beyond the government’s demands.

Surprisingly, while it suspends the celebration of sacraments which are of the utmost importance for the salvation of the soul and the Christian life—and which can be easily carried out with the necessary sanitary precautions—the CEP nevertheless authorizes the pursuit of catechism classes: a perplexing decision in the face of a real inversion in the order of priorities.

“Our way of practicing the faith opens us to the God of mercy and expresses our commitment to solidarity with all those who seek to alleviate the suffering of others, opening the way to a new hope which, beyond vaccines, gives meaning and takes care of life in all its dimensions,” concludes the CEP press release.

A soothing but unconvincing way of drawing a line around an entire area of ​​sacramental life, for an indefinite period, at the risk of creating a lot of misunderstanding and confusion among the faithful Portuguese.