Trump-appointed judge upholds Cuomo’s decision to limit capacity at churches

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Erick Komitee, U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of New York.

One day after the Diocese of Brooklyn announced it was suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for violation of religious freedom, a judge appointed by President Donald Trump upheld the governor’s ruling to limit Mass attendance in coronavirus hotspots, according to the Brooklyn Reporter.

When Cuomo announced the inception of the Cluster Action Initiative, the capacity permitted in places of worship was reduced to 10 people in the red zone, 25 people in the orange zone and 50 percent in the yellow zone.

After the decision was handed down by U.S. District Judge Eric Komitee, a 2019 Trump appointee, Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio expressed disappointment.

“We are seeking what is just and we have kept parishioners safe and will continue to do so,” DiMarzio said. “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.”

He said that the Diocese of Brooklyn doesn’t have any choice but to abide by the capacity restrictions.

“As the leader of the Diocese of Brooklyn, I have a sacred duty to spiritually provide for all parishioners, mothers, fathers, and our children who attend church,” he said. “We filed this lawsuit in the name of the 1.5 million Catholics who worship in our Diocese, who celebrate Mass in 33 languages, and come from a diverse tapestry of ethnicities, races, and nationalities so that we could all keep our right to pray in church as one community of believers. Last night’s initial decision is a sad day for our Church community, but we will not let it deter us from our faith.”

During an interview with CNN on Oct. 9, Cuomo said the cluster is in ultra-orthodox communities, which are “an issue.”

“The Catholic schools are closed because they happen to be in that cluster, but the issue is with that ultra-orthodox community,” he said. “This is not a matter of religious freedom, right? I don’t care if you’re Roman Catholic, you’re Jewish, you’re Muslim, you’re an atheist. You have to follow the rules of the state, the laws of the state.”

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