Pope Francis Calls for ‘Obedience’ to State Lockdowns

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ROME — Pope Francis urged obedience to state lockdown measures Tuesday, just 36 hours after Italian bishops reproached the government for refusing to allow public worship.

“At this time, as indications emerge for a way out of quarantine, we pray that the Lord will grant us the grace of prudence and obedience to these indications, so that the pandemic does not return,” the pontiff said in a daily tweet.

Late Sunday, the Italian Bishops’ Conference issued a sternly worded rebuke to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte over an “arbitrary” decision to exclude public worship from the activities permitted under new COVID-19 lockdown rules.

During his streamed press conference Sunday evening, Mr. Conte said that according to his new regulations, which will go into effect on May 4, only small-scale funerals can be celebrated but not public Masses or other liturgical services.

In their communiqué, the bishops adopted unusually strong language, insisting that the Prime Minister’s decree “arbitrarily excludes the possibility of celebrating Mass with the people,” while also declaring that “the Church demands to be able to resume its pastoral action.”