VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Italy’s Roman Catholic Church has reprimanded the government for not allowing the faithful to return to Masses at the start of a gradual staged end to Europe’s longest coronavirus lockdown.
Masses have been banned since early March when Italy closed most commercial activities apart from essentials.
A timetable given on Sunday by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said funerals could resume from May 4 but must be limited to 15 people and held outdoors if possible.
The timetable for May 4 to June 1 made no mention of Masses.
Italy’s bishops, in a strongly-worded statement late on Sunday night, said they could “not accept seeing the exercise of freedom of religion being compromised” and accused the government of “arbitrarily” excluding Mass from the timetable.
The statement implied that the bishops felt betrayed, saying they had suggested to the government measures to resume Masses while respecting new safety norms.
The timetable also brought divisions within Conte’s cabinet.