U.S. SUPREME COURT GRANTS EMERGENCY RELIEF IN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CASE FILED BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN AGAINST GOVERNOR CUOMO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 26, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
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arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione 
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jquaglione@desalesmedia.org

U.S. SUPREME COURT GRANTS EMERGENCY RELIEF IN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM CASE FILED BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN

AGAINST GOVERNOR CUOMO

 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn today announced the United States Supreme Court has issued an emergency writ of injunction in their case brought against New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, in which the Diocese alleges that the COVID-19 restrictions on church attendance in “red” and “orange” zones violate the Diocese’s fundamental right to the free exercise of religion, protected by the United States Constitution.

“I am gratified by the decision of the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, who have recognized the clear First Amendment violation and urgent need for relief in this case. I am proud to be leading the Diocese of Brooklyn and fighting for our sacred and constitutional right to worship,” said The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.

This decision by the highest court in the land marks a major turning point in this legal journey, which began in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in early October. On October 16, the district court denied the Diocese’s motion for a preliminary injunction. Following a 2-1 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denying the Diocese’s motion to enjoin the restrictions pending the Diocese’s appeal, the Diocese filed an emergency application in the Supreme Court on November 9, 2020.

“I have said from the beginning the restrictions imposed by Governor Cuomo were an overreach that did not take into account the size of our churches or the safety protocols that have kept parishioners safe. Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens have adhered to all COVID-19 safety protocols to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist. Our churches have not been the cause of any outbreaks. We have taken our legal battle this far because we should be considered essential, for what could be more essential than safely gathering in prayer in a time of pandemic. Now, with the benefit of the Supreme Court’s ruling, we look forward to continuing the fight in the lower courts to ensure that these unconstitutional restrictions are permanently enjoined once and for all,” continued Bishop DiMarzio.

The Diocese of Brooklyn is being represented by litigation attorney Randy M. Mastro, a partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  “We are extremely grateful that the Supreme Court has acted so swiftly and decisively to protect one of our most fundamental constitutional rights — the free exercise of religion. Bishop DiMarzio has been a profile in courage, committed to reopening Brooklyn’s churches, safely, and keeping them open. So this is a great victory for the Diocese’s churches, but it is also a victory for all people of faith whose rights have now been vindicated,” Mr. Mastro said.

The appeal of the district court’s earlier decision denying preliminary injunctive relief is ongoing in the Second Circuit, with oral argument scheduled for Friday, December 18.

 

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BROOKLYN AND QUEENS CATHOLIC SCHOOLS AND ACADEMIES TO CONTINUE IN-PERSON LEARNING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
646-241-9805
arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione 
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BROOKLYN AND QUEENS CATHOLIC SCHOOLS AND ACADEMIES TO CONTINUE IN-PERSON LEARNING

Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for Brooklyn and Queens, has announced that all 69 schools and academies will remain open and continue to provide in-person learning, in spite of the decision made to close New York City public schools indefinitely starting tomorrow.

“I am frustrated that the Mayor’s announcement was made as Catholic schools and academies throughout Brooklyn and Queens were dismissing our students. I want to make it clear to parents, teachers, staff, and students that the Mayor’s announcement only pertains to New York City public schools, and our schools will be open tomorrow. We have worked tirelessly to ensure that our school community remains safe for everyone, and we will continue to ensure strict compliance with all health and safety protocols,” said Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of Catholic Schools ~ Office of Support Services.

Catholic schools in the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens have provided safe, five days a week in-person learning since beginning this school year, as scheduled, on September 9. The Superintendent, along with the Superintendent of the Archdiocese of New York, has received confirmation from the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Non-Public Schools that they will maintain entitled services for Catholic school students, including school nurses, transportation, and food.

Catholic Academies and Parish Schools within the Diocese of Brooklyn have successfully operated for more than two months due to the strict adherence to the important “Core Four” actions to prevent COVID-19 transmission, including maintaining physical distance, wearing a face covering, practicing healthy hand hygiene, and staying home if sick. The schools and academies of the Diocese of Brooklyn continue to work with New York State and City Department of Health officials on a regular basis to maintain the safety of all of our students, faculty, and staff.

For a listing and more information about Catholic Schools in Brooklyn and Queens, please visit catholicschoolsbq.org.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
646-241-9805
arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione
718-576-9180
jquaglione@desalesmedia.org

The following press notification is being shared on behalf of our colleagues at Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens regarding tomorrow’s Annual Turkey Giveaway in Brooklyn where 900 turkeys and food vouchers will be distributed. Members of the media are encouraged to attend. For further information on the event, please contact Lucy Garrido-Mota of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens at (347) 786-2846 or Lucy.gmota@ccbq.org, or the Brooklyn Diocese Press Office.

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Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens to Distribute 900 Turkeys and Food Vouchers to Families in Need in Brooklyn and Queens during the Annual Turkey Giveaway this Thanksgiving Holiday

 

WHEN:          Tuesday, November 17, 2020

10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine

WHERE:       St. Francis of Assisi – St. Blaise Parish Parking Lot

400 Lincoln Road, Brooklyn, NY 11225

 

WHAT:       Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens will distribute 900 Thanksgiving turkeys and food vouchers to families and individuals in need in Brooklyn and Queens during the Annual Turkey Giveaway this Thanksgiving Holiday. The distribution of the 12-14 lbs. turkeys is co-sponsored by the offices of NYS Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson

The turkeys will be donated by Alphonse & Maria Catanese and family in honor of their parents, the offices of NYS Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, and EJ Electric. The Farmers to Families Box program will also be providing food locally sourced in New York to the families.

Food vouchers for turkey dinner fixings will be provided and distributed by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens in increments of $25.00 for a total of $25,000.

Distribution of the Thanksgiving Holiday turkey and vouchers is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Photo opportunities:

  • Lines of individuals waiting to pick up turkeys
  • Volunteers unloading a truck of frozen turkeys
  • Volunteers packing and distributing frozen turkeys and food vouchers

The official media advisory for this event is attached.

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Catholic Schools in Brooklyn and Queens Will Remain Open

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 15, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
646-241-9805
arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione 
718-517-3112
jquaglione@desalesmedia.org

Catholic Schools in Brooklyn and Queens Will Remain Open

The Superintendent of Catholic Schools for Brooklyn and Queens today has announced that all 69 schools and academies will remain open and continue to provide in-person learning, irrespective of any impending decision pertaining to the status of New York City public schools.

Catholic schools in the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens have provided safe, five days a week in-person learning since beginning this school year, as scheduled, on September 9. The Superintendent has also requested the Department of Education’s Office of Non-Public Schools continue to provide services for Catholic school students, which they are entitled to, including school nurses, transportation, and food, if public schools are to close.

“Every member of our school community has truly dedicated themselves to keeping our schools as safe as possible in the wake of this Coronavirus pandemic, and the results prove these efforts have worked.  For more than eight weeks, we have been able to maintain in-person learning for our students, mostly five days a week, and we intend to keep doing so going forward this school year. We know how critical it is for the development of our students to keep our schools open. Our children want to be in the classroom and we want them to be there for as long as safely possible,” said Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, Superintendent of Catholic Schools ~ Office of Support Services.

Diocesan schools have successfully operated for more than two months due to the strict adherence to the important “Core Four” actions to prevent COVID-19 transmission, including maintaining physical distance, wearing a face covering, practicing healthy hand hygiene, and staying home if sick. The schools and academies of the Diocese of Brooklyn continue to work with New York State and City Department of Health officials on a regular basis to maintain the safety of all of our students, faculty, and staff.

For a listing and more information about Catholic Schools in Brooklyn and Queens, please visit catholicschoolsbq.org.

 

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Statement on the Retirement of Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 30, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
646-241-9805
arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione 
718-517-3112
jquaglione@desalesmedia.org

Statement on the Retirement of Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros

 

The Diocese of Brooklyn announces that today, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has accepted the resignation of Octavio Cisneros from the office of auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

“I am grateful to Bishop Cisneros for his willingness to serve and was honored to ordain him and consecrate him as an auxiliary Bishop on June 6, 2006.  He will remain as pastor at the Church of the Holy Child Jesus & St. Benedict Joseph Labre in Richmond Hill, Queens, and will continue to serve as Vicar for Hispanic Concerns. We thank Bishop Cisneros for his years of Diocesan leadership and are grateful he will continue to serve the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens,” said the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn.

As required by Canon (Church) law, upon turning 75, all bishops must submit a letter of resignation from the ecclesiastical office that they hold. It is up to the Holy See to determine when to accept that resignation. In the case of auxiliary bishops, the acceptance of a resignation typically occurs shortly after turning 75.

“I am most grateful to Pope Benedict and Bishop DiMarzio for giving me the fullness of the priesthood in 2006 so that I can help minister as auxiliary bishop, which has been rewarding and fulfilling for me. I am thankful to Pope Francis for his continued support of our bishops. He is an inspiration for all of us. I have lived a very happy priesthood in the Diocese of Brooklyn for 49 years and look forward to continuing my priestly ministry,” said Octavio Cisneros, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Brooklyn.

Bishop Cisneros was born in Las Villas, a province of Cuba, on July 19, 1945. In October 1961, while a high school student, he came to the United States as a political refugee as part of Operation Peter Pan, a Catholic humanitarian effort that brought 14,000 unaccompanied minors to the U.S. from Cuba.

He was ordained a priest of the Brooklyn Diocese on May 29, 1971, and has been pastor at the Church of the Holy Child Jesus & St. Benedict Joseph Labre since 2007. He has also served at St. Michael’s Church and as pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Corona.

Throughout his priesthood, he has been appointed as an Episcopal, or Territorial, Vicar in the Brooklyn East Vicariate, and as rector of Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston. He was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

Bishop Cisneros has also been involved with the Northeast Catholic Center for Hispanics, the “Instituto Nacional Hispano de Liturgia,” the Bishop’s Committee on the Liturgy and the Pastors’ Advisory Committee. He has served on the Board of Governors of Immaculate Conception Seminary and as past President of the Conference of Diocesan Directors for the Spanish Apostolate.

Attached is a photo of Bishop Cisneros.

Press release issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

https://www.usccb.org/news/2020/pope-francis-accepts-resignation-auxiliary-bishop-octavio-cisneros-brooklyn

 

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STATEMENT FROM BISHOP NICHOLAS DIMARZIO ON FEDERAL LAWSUIT COURT DECISION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 16, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
646-241-9805
arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione 
718-517-3112
jquaglione@desalesmedia.org

STATEMENT FROM BISHOP NICHOLAS DIMARZIO ON FEDERAL LAWSUIT COURT DECISION

 

The Diocese of Brooklyn is extremely disappointed by today’s ruling, as we believe we presented a strong case in support of our right to worship. It is a shame our parishioners in the red zones cannot return to Mass when the judge acknowledged we have done everything right. We are now considering our appellate options.

There is nothing more important than the safety of our parishioners. That is why we have worked diligently to implement strict COVID-19 safety rules that go above and beyond state requirements. We will continue to require masks to be worn in order to participate in all our services. We will continue to voluntarily limit capacity in all buildings to 25% occupancy, and we will abide by social distancing guidelines as required.  The proof of our compliance is the fact that we have not had any COVID outbreaks or significant cases in either our churches or schools. We continue to evaluate our procedures to build upon the safety we have so far achieved.

It is unfortunate the court has ruled against us, and as we will abide by these restrictions, the churches in the red zones are closed until further notice. The Mass attendance limits of 10 people are extremely difficult to implement because we never want to turn away worshippers. It is unfortunate that our inalienable constitutional right to worship is still impeded despite the efforts we have made.

Despite this loss, we will continue to press our leaders for policies that consider the individual circumstances of houses of worship. We will also continue to advocate for places of worship to be classified as essential, for there is nothing more necessary today than a community of believers, united in prayer, asking the Lord to end this pandemic.

 

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FUTURES IN EDUCATION CATHOLIC SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP DINNER VIRTUALLY MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 15, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
718-517-3143
arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione 
718-517-3112
jquaglione@desalesmedia.org

FUTURES IN EDUCATION CATHOLIC SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIP DINNER VIRTUALLY MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER

            The Diocese of Brooklyn is announcing the Annual Futures in Education Scholarship Fund Dinner will take place next Tuesday, October 20, 2020, for the first time ever virtually, with all proceeds to support the financially disadvantaged students attending, or applying to, Catholic grammar schools and academies in Brooklyn and Queens.

 This year’s Mistress of Ceremonies will be a longtime Futures supporter and the co-host of Fox 5 NY’s Good Day New YorkRosanna Scotto. Two members of the Board of Trustees, who have served since the program’s inception in 1989, John A. Loconsolo and Joseph M. Mattone, Sr., will share their testimonial of their long-standing commitment.

During the past 2019-2020 school year, Futures in Education awarded over $7.5 million in scholarships to more than 5,000 students. Additionally, due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the devastating economic effect, an additional $900,000 was raised and awarded to over 1,000 families in need through the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, Vicar for Development for the Diocese of Brooklyn, stated, “Since our dinner last year, so much has changed and our need has grown so much larger.  This year, while surely in a different fashion, we continue to ask for the support of our loyal donors, and of new ones, to achieve our mission. With your help, we will continue to break down any economic barriers that stand in the way of a highly-valued Catholic education.”

The featured parent speaker for the evening will be Chere Dyal, who has benefitted from the Futures in Education’s Angel Program since 2017 when a degenerative disorder that affected her Cornea and vision forced her to stop working. Through the efforts of Futures in Education and their Angel Donor Program, Chere’s children have been able to continue their Catholic education despite the unexpected financial hardship.

“I honestly believe that my children are going to do amazing because they attended Catholic school. Futures in Education really builds the foundation for the children’s future,” said Chere Dyal whose two children are on track to graduate from a Queens Catholic grammar school in June 2021.

To view the live stream or donate to support this year’s Futures in Education Virtual Gala, individuals are invited to visit www.futuresineducation.org, or text, FIE20 to 76278. To participate in the live Angel Auction on October 20th, from 7 PM to 8 PM, supporters can contribute via text or by calling (718) 965-7394.

Since its inception, Futures in Education has awarded over $120 million to over 32,000 students.

 

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HEARING SET FOR THURSDAY IN LAWSUIT FILED BY THE DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN AGAINST GOVERNOR CUOMO

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 14, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
718-517-3143
arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione 
718-517-3112
jquaglione@desalesmedia.org

HEARING SET FOR THURSDAY IN LAWSUIT FILED BY THE DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN AGAINST GOVERNOR CUOMO

 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn today announced that its request for an expedited hearing in the federal lawsuit filed against Governor Andrew Cuomo last week has been granted.

 

Judge Nicholas Garaufis has ruled in favor of an expedited hearing seeking a preliminary injunction to re-open 28 Brooklyn and Queens churches located in the red and orange zones. The hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, October 15, 2020, at 2:00 p.m.

 

“I am pleased that our case will move forward because going to Church should absolutely be considered essential. We should not be grouped with non-essential services like theaters and recreational facilities. Especially when you consider that we have been operating safely for months at a 25% capacity and have not had any issues because our faithful know that only with a mask can they attend Mass as well as strict adherence to all of our social distancing protocols,” said The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. “I am hopeful we will not have to close or turn people away in the 28 churches in the red and orange zones. All we are seeking is for our faithful of Brooklyn and Queens to be allowed back to Church and the ability to receive the Holy Eucharist.”

 

“We look forward to presenting our case to Judge Garaufis, demonstrating that the Diocese has done everything right to provide a safe, COVID-free environment for worship and should therefore be permitted to reopen its churches for Mass this coming Sunday,” said Randy Mastro, a partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who is representing the Diocese.

 

The decision by Governor Cuomo to reduce capacity at churches in the red and orange zones was announced last week without prior notification. The Diocese of Brooklyn immediately filed a lawsuit against this Executive Order on the grounds of religious freedom. The Diocese has also highlighted the safety protocols established since churches reopened on July 4th weekend, which have effectively prevented the spread of the Coronavirus in their parishes.

 

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LIFE OF CATHOLIC SAINT HONORED: BISHOP DIMARZIO CITES NEW MOTHER CABRINI STATUE AS INSPIRATION TO CARE FOR EACH OTHER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
718-517-3143
arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione 
718-517-3112
jquaglione@desalesmedia.org

LIFE OF CATHOLIC SAINT HONORED: BISHOP DIMARZIO CITES NEW MOTHER CABRINI STATUE AS INSPIRATION TO CARE FOR EACH OTHER

The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, this afternoon joined Governor Andrew Cuomo and fellow members of the Mother Cabrini Memorial Commission at the official statue dedication in honor of the life and service of Mother Frances Cabrini. The sculpture was unveiled at a ceremony in Battery Park City, behind the Museum of Jewish Heritage, where the statue now stands overlooking the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. The statue was designed by Jill and Giancarlo Biagi.

 

“I am so happy that there were so many people who supported this effort and I am happy with the unique design which shows Mother Cabrini in motion and taking care of children.  I know for the artists it was a work of passion, and this statue does her justice. We hope that people who visit this memorial will recognize that history should be repeated, that there was a care for the outcast and marginalized which Mother Cabrini understood, and we need that same care today. This is not just history, we want to make history with a new understanding of how we take care of people,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the Co-Chairman of the Mother Cabrini Memorial Commission.

 

Last year, Mother Frances Cabrini received the most nominations in the “She Built NYC” competition, but was not selected for a statue to be built in her honor. The program was designed to create more statues throughout the five boroughs honoring women.

 

At the time, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio organized an effort to raise funds and public support to get her statue built in spite of the City’s decision. Last year at the New York City Columbus Day parade, Bishop DiMarzio rode aboard a float with a statue of Mother Cabrini which was cheered along the entire parade route. At the conclusion of the parade, Governor Cuomo announced New York State’s commitment to work with the Columbus Citizens Foundation and the Diocese of Brooklyn, to ensure Mother Cabrini was permanently honored.

 

“This statue of Mother Cabrini recognizes both her contributions as an Italian immigrant woman, as well as those of all Italian American and immigrant women. She is a shining symbol of what it means to care for the other person, the sick, the uneducated, the economically challenged and the stranger, always putting the needs of society’s most vulnerable above her own. I hope that people will see this heroic statue, ask questions, learn about her outstanding life and work to imitate it as we all build New York’s future together,” said John Leo Heyer II, a member of the Mother Cabrini Memorial Commission.

Mother Cabrini was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1889.  Through her efforts, she would go on to establish 67 hospitals and schools and orphanages. In 1946, she was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XII in recognition of her service to all people. She was named the Patroness of Immigrants in 1950.

The Diocese of Brooklyn has also raised funds to pay for the construction of a Mother Cabrini monument in Brooklyn. Those project details will be announced at a later date.

 

Photos attached courtesy of DeSales Media Group.

 

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STATEMENT FROM BISHOP NICHOLAS DIMARZIO ON FEDERAL LAWSUIT COURT DECISION

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Adriana Rodriguez
718-517-3143
arodriguez@desalesmedia.org

John Quaglione 
718-517-3112
jquaglione@desalesmedia.org

 

STATEMENT FROM BISHOP NICHOLAS DIMARZIO

ON FEDERAL LAWSUIT COURT DECISION

 

We are disappointed by last night’s initial ruling, but this is only the beginning of the case, and we expect ultimately to prevail. We are seeking what is just. And we have kept parishioners safe and will continue to do so. Thus, there is no reason for this latest interference with our First Amendment right to celebrate Mass together, so we will continue to press the courts and our elected officials to end it as soon as possible.

We are left with no choice but, for now, to abide by the new restrictions that limit Mass attendance to 10 people in the red zones and 25 in the orange zones. But we will continue to fight to vindicate our fundamental constitutional rights, and we will continue to be a model for safety in our religious community. And by doing right and being right, we will prevail.

 

As the leader of the Diocese of Brooklyn, I have a sacred duty to spiritually provide for all parishioners, mothers, fathers, and our children who attend church. We filed this lawsuit in the name of the 1.5 million Catholics who worship in our Diocese, who celebrate Mass in 33 languages, and come from a diverse tapestry of ethnicities, races, and nationalities so that we could all keep our right to pray in church as one community of believers. Last night’s initial decision is a sad day for our Church community, but we will not let it deter us from our faith.

 

I ask all Catholics to join me in continued prayer for the end of this terrible virus.

 

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The Decision is attached.

TRO_Decision