Note: This past weekend, as many parts of the world continue to suffer from restrictions on the Mass, thousands of Catholics in approximately seventy cities across France—up from nearly 40 the previous weekend—gathered in front of cathedrals and churches for the third consecutive weekend to remind the government that Mass is essential and to pray for a return to public worship. Despite the reservations of some of their episcopal confreres, three bishops put in an appearance: Archbishop Vincent Dollman, who addressed the people in Cambrai, Bishop Philippe Christory of Chartres, and Bishop Marc Aillet, present for a second time at the pro-Mass rally in Bayonne.
Widely reported in French media, the protests seem to have made an impression: on November 24, Macron announced that public Masses would once again be permitted as of November 29. But Catholics were dismayed to learn the maximum number of faithful allowed is 30—regardless of the size of the church: the same for Chartres Cathedral and for a tiny chapel. The ruling will likely mean many Catholics, both regular and occasional attendees, will be unable to attend Midnight Mass for Christmas this year.
Macron’s ungenerous ruling follows two important legal victories obtained last week. As Crisis reported, the government forbade protestors to pray in public, threatening severe sanctions; Catholics were told to do so would be considered a violation of the 1905 Law of Separation of Church and State. The matter went to court, and two last-minute legal victories were obtained in Paris and in Clermont-Ferrand, ruling that the 1905 Law of Separation does not in fact forbid prayer or even outdoor Mass at a protest. But police blocked the Clermont-Ferrand rally anyways, citing public health concerns.