From The Tablet: 

A federal judge denied a request made by the Diocese of Brooklyn for a temporary restraining order to block Gov. Andrew Cuomo from enforcing his new COVID-19 rules on houses of worship.

Judge Eric Komitee’s decision, handed down late at night on Oct. 9 following a hearing that afternoon, means that the new restrictions Cuomo mandated can go into effect.

The hearing took place one day after the diocese filed its lawsuit.

While writing that the decision was a “difficult” one, Komitee sided with the governor. “Under Supreme Court precedent, the right to freely exercise one’s religion does not exempt worshipers from compliance with ‘neutral, generally applicable regulatory law (s).’”

In his decision, Komitee wrote that Cuomo’s executive order was actually aimed at houses of worship in the Orthodox Jewish community and that the diocese “appears to have been swept up in that effort having been mostly spared, so far at least, from the problem at hand.”

The judge noted that in an appearance on CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciuttto on Oct. 9, Cuomo stated that “the cluster is a predominantly ultra-orthodox (Hasidic) community” and that “the issue is with that ultra-orthodox community.”

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio issued a statement on Oct. 10 expressing disappointment with the judge’s decision and vowing that the diocese’s fight is not over.

“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,” the bishop stated. “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.”

But Bishop DiMarzio also said the diocese intends to obey the governor’s new regulations. The first Sunday Masses with the new rules in effect will take place on Oct. 10.

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