Archbishop of Barcelona "very surprised" by controversy generated by Sagrada Familia Mass

Omella defends that the rules were followed but says he understands that Salut will investigate

The controversy over the celebration of a mass with 600 people attending, this Saturday, at the Sagrada Familia is still smouldering. The Archbishop of Barcelona, Joan Josep Omella, today confessed that he was "very surprised" by the repercussions given to the act of beatification but asked for "forgiveness" from the people who felt hurt: "We have tried to follow the rules for a Mass that had been planned for some time". Omella admitted to Catalunya Ràdio that attendats¡ temperature was "probably" not taken, although he added that he didn't see it because he wasn't in the access area. Even so, he assures that all the measures were respected, like the limit of capacity, and that they did not ask for permission because they don't usually. "We have a 30% limit for Eucharistic celebrations", he pointed out, and said that all the members of the City Hall and the Government were sent invitations: "They knew it".

The archbishop assured them that all the established security measures were complied with, and that communion was distributed as usual, in the context of a pandemic, in the hand. He has pointed out, however, that the Health Department has the right and the duty to investigate how things were done if it has suspicions that they were not done well. He noted, however, that no complaint has been filed against the church. Neither was one filed as a result of the Masses said in July as hommage to the victims of Covid-19, which also generated controversy. Omella wanted to avoid the controversy with restaurant and culture workers, who seek to reopen, and has proposed creating a focus group to think of solutions for all those affected. "It is a moment of great tension," he said.

The archbishop rejected the proposal of the Justice Department to limit religious acts to 100 people because, he said, "a small church is not the same as a large one. In statements to TV3, he said he was prepared to postpone the next major religious event.

"It was not illegal, but it was not the right time to do it, being as we are in the midst of the epidemic," said a high ranking health official.

The deputy mayor of Security of Barcelona, Albert Batlle, who was one of the 600 attendees at the event, also defended that at no time did he have the feeling that health and safety measures were not respected and considered that the Mass was against common sense. He explained that he attended the beatification in the Sagrada Familia in response to the invitation that had been sent to him and taking it for granted that the rules would be complied with. "I didn't feel that the rules were being violated," he said.

Batlle also referred to the situation that other groups are experiencing, such as the restoration, and he pointed out that City Hall would be in favour of introducing some changes in the measures to allow them some activity. For the time being, Procicat will decide today whether to reduce the capacity allowed for acts of worship.

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