Protesters led by the Catholic archbishop of San Francisco on Sunday condemned limits on reopening churches in the city as it battles the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is mockery, they are mocking you — even worse, mocking God,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, KGO reported. “To City Hall, you don’t matter.”

The city plans to permit services of up to 25 people indoors or 50 people outdoors by Oct. 1, The Mercury News reported.

But Cordileone told hundreds of protesters wearing “we are essential” shirts Sunday that those restrictions are unfair, according to the publication.

“The city continues to place unrealistic and suffocating restrictions on our natural and constitutional right to worship,” Cordileone said, The Mercury News reported. “This discrimination affects all of us.”

“Going to Mass is like freedom of speech, without that, you take away our souls,” said protester Stella Marinucci from San Francisco, KGO reported.

Advertising

City leaders say the restrictions are necessary to help curb the spread of the deadly virus in response to a column by Cordileone in The Washington Post criticizing the rules.

“The mayor is sensitive to the needs of the faith community and people’s desires and needs to worship, both personally and as mayor,” said Jeff Cretan, a spokesman for Mayor London Breed, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

“We are working with public health to do what we can, knowing we have to be cognizant of the risks with every step we take with reopening, whether that is schools or houses of worship,” Cretan said, the publication reported.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who is Catholic, said the city should “follow the science on this” in response to Cordileone’s objections, KPIX reported.

“I’m sure he must have meant if it is scientifically safe, rather than jeopardizing people’s health if they want to go to church,” Pelosi said, according to the station.

More than 31 million cases of the COVID-19 virus have been confirmed worldwide with more than 961,000 deaths as of Sept. 21, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has more than 6.8 million confirmed cases with more than 199,000 deaths.

———

©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

Visit The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.) at www.sacbee.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.