“You confine our bodies but you will never confine our souls”: several hundred Catholics gathered again on Sunday morning in front of the cathedrals of Bordeaux and Toulouse to demand the return of mass in the churches, prohibited during the confinement.
Kneeling in the shade of Saint-André Cathedral in Bordeaux, more than 300 faithful recited a rosary and sang songs and recitations of prayers during a static rally declared in the prefecture, under the watchful eye of a police presence discreet and between two banners “Give us back the mass” and “Stop the health dictatorship”.
“For us, Mass is vital. We need it right now and now. This ban is nonsense. Sanitary measures can be put in place and respected in churches”, told AFP Elisabeth Blanchet, a student who with four friends set up the collective “Pour la messe Bordeaux”.
“We will be there every Sunday as long as they do not return mass for us,” she added. On November 15, more than 300 Catholics had already met on the forecourt of Saint-André Cathedral.
Before the collective prayer, one of the organizers asked the faithful to reach out to move away from each other, in order to respect social distancing.
“The right to mass, the leaders must protect it and guarantee it to us”, declared at the microphone this young man wearing a large black beret. This is not a “community claim”, he said. “We are not a State within a State, we are a Church”.
Among the faithful, of all generations, some carried small signs such as “Less cathode ray tubes, more catholic masses” or “The mass, well of first necessity”.
“Can we go to pray (at mass) please? Communicate among Christians and meet face-to-face because in virtual, it is a little lacking …”, asked Laurence Valay, who came de Talence, in the suburbs of Bordeaux.
For this lady wearing on her mask an inscription “Mass, Liberty”, the government “is anticlerical, Christianophobic and Christophobic (sic)”.
In Toulouse also a few hundred Catholics, many of them families with children, gathered in front of Saint-Etienne cathedral for the second Sunday in a row.
“We have been snatched away from our freedom of worship. We need to go to mass to fully live our faith,” Marie-Clémence Bourgeois, a 20-year-old design student, told AFP.
Thomas Robesson, 42, came to demonstrate with his family, does not understand the “logic” of the government: “The buses are full, the subways are full, the supermarkets are full, but mass is prohibited?”.