The director of the National Council of Evangelicals of France (CNEF), Clément Diedrichs, participated on Tuesday in the virtual meeting between the French President Emmanuel Macron, the Minister of Interior, Christophe Castaner, and the representatives of the main religions.
The President thanked the religious leaders for their involvement in the implementation of the exceptional coronavirus measures currently in place, and expressed the need to continue this collaboration.
“CURRENT RESTRICTIONS ARE JUSTIFIED FOR REASONS OF PUBLIC HEALTH”
The CNEF used the opportunity to share its views and proposals regarding the deconfinement of the 2,600 Evangelical Protestant communities in France it represents.
“The CNEF considers the current restrictions on religious freedom to be in accordance with the law, since they are justified, necessary and proportionate for reasons of public health. However, we intend to be very vigilant about recovering this freedom as soon as possible”, the evangelical body said in a statement.
CNEF: CHURCHES SHOULD CONTINUE VIRTUAL MEETINGS BEYOND MAY 11
During the meeting, Emmanuel Macron confirmed that the places of worship will remain closed on May 11, whatever the size. The question will be reviewed 3 weeks later, depending on the control of the pandemic.
Depending on the situation, some gatherings could start again from mid-June, “not necessarily all (depending on the size) and respecting the physical distance. It will not be like that for large gatherings and events. The worst would be to open too quickly, too hard, and be forced to close”.
The CNEF encourages its members to maintain virtual gatherings beyond May 11, considering that “small intra-community groups, with often a strong variety of ages, will not always be able to ensure barrier gestures correctly”.
“Even if these communities want to meet again physically, they should not forget that the priority is to fight against the spread of Covid-19”, the CNEF added.
FREE MOBILITY FOR PASTORS
However, the CNEF requested “freedom to anyone wishing to meet personally with a religious minister, in a place of worship, a medical center, or at their home”.
“In order to meet the individual needs of members of our communities and all other people, we ask that pastors could be able to come and go without any restrictions”, they pointed out.
INTERIOR MINISTER: “THE SUMMER VACATION WILL NOT BE LIKE IT WAS BEFORE”
The evangeligal entity also talked about the concerns of young people, organizers and the families regarding the summer camps.
Minister Castaner said that “the summer vacation will not be like it was before. The framework will be clarified within 15 days”.
The CNEF mentioned the desire of several evangelical couples in France to be able to hold a civil marriage, with just a few guests, knowing that they will have to postpone the main religious and festive ceremonies to a period when it will be possible. Worshippers at a ‘Porte ouverte’ church service in February 2020. / Facebook La Porte ouverte chrétienne.
The CNEF expressed its satisfaction with the extension of the winter shelter accommodation to May 31, but it warned of the risk of massive influx of people to be taken care of on that date.
The Minister stressed that they are “paying attention to all the charity work, especially since he is aware of the foreseeable financial difficulties due to the drop in donations during the current period”.
He also recalled “the measures for non-regularized foreigners, taken by the government to ensure that they have access to healthcare and assistance and that their residence permits can be extended”.
‘PORTE OUVERTE’ CHURCH
The issue of the discrimination suffered by the ‘Porte ouverte’ church in Mulhouse and more broadly by all evangelical Protestants, was also addressed at one point of the meeting
The Minister underlined that President Macron had had a firm speech to prevent stigmatisation.
PRAYING FOR ALL
Furthermore, the evangelical leader stressed that they keep “praying for the doctors and researchers who work to find adequate treatments and vaccines. We also pray for caregivers and helpers in hospitals and care facilities for the elderly and disabled”.
“We do not forget all the authorities in charge of the management of this crisis nor the sick and the bereaved families, either”, he added.
“SHARING THE HOPE IN GOD CAN CONTRIBUTE TO MORE SOLIDARITY”
The CNEF “is ready to work closely with the prefects and mayors to implement the deconfinement conditions on the ground, as soon as possible”.
“In this crisis, the Evangelical Protestants keep their hope in God intact, and seek to share it, being certain that it can contribute to more solidarity and brotherhood”, they concluded.