Catholic Diocese of Madison requests equal treatment regarding attendance

A team of attorneys representing the Catholic Diocese of Madison sent a letter to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway stating that the current 50 person limit for mass is discriminatory.

After Madison and Dane County officials released the “Forward Dane” executive order on May 18, which listed houses of worship as “essential services” thus allowing them to resume in-person services at 25 percent capacity, the Diocese of Madison quickly put together a plan for safely reopening with rigorous social distancing and hygiene protocols.

However, after the Diocese announced its plan, the City of Madison and Dane County announced that places of worship were limited to groups of 50.

“In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the racial injustice of the past week, our community is crying out for unity, for grace and for spiritual healing. We are ready and able to answer that call, but the 50-person cap has unjustly stifled our pastoral mission,” said Bishop Donald Hying, Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison. “Our Diocese has been, and remains, committed to promoting and protecting the health and safety of our fellow Madisonians, but the County and City have wrongly subordinated the spiritual needs of the community to the operations of non-essential businesses.”

The letter states that the current restrictions imposed in Madison and Dane County violates First Amendment rights and state constitution.

Other places like gyms, restaurants, bars, museums and movie theaters can operate at 25% capacity, even if that number is greater than 50.

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