Some days back, I wrote about the COVID spike in my corner of Queens, and the response of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — limiting my parish to just 25 people for Mass in a church that seats 900.
The restrictions remain in place — you can see how many attended the 9 a.m. Mass Sunday in the photo above — and now The New York Times is reporting on the reaction in the pews:
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is a conflicted Catholic, a former altar boy who nonetheless describes himself as someone who has had problems with the Roman Catholic Church.
The feeling is apparently mutual.
Over the last two weeks, Catholic leaders in New York have voiced their deep disapproval with Mr. Cuomo over his decision to sharply limit attendance at houses of worship in areas that are seeing a surge of new coronavirus cases.
The governor’s decision was largely aimed at trying to rein in congregants in Orthodox Jewish synagogues in New York City and in Orange and Rockland Counties, where some members have flouted social distancing and mask regulations.
But it also affected other houses of worship, including about two dozen parishes in the diocese covering Queens and Brooklyn, where Catholic officials have sued Mr. Cuomo in federal court, insisting that they have been abiding by the rules and should not be punished.
“We’ve gone above and beyond what they have recommended and mandated,” said Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference. “So if there’s an animus, it’s coming from his end, not our end.”
Leaders of the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York have also criticized the restrictions, which have closed nonessential businesses and limited occupancy in so-called red zones to 25 percent of building capacity or a mere 10 people, whichever is lower.
“To have all of the steps we’ve taken be ignored, and to face the prospect of indefinite unreasonable restrictions placed upon our churches is just not fair!” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan wrote in a blog post last week. “Why are churches being singled out? Why especially are those houses of worship that have been exemplary, strict and successful in heeding all warnings, being shut down again?”