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"Police raids on Italian churches raise religious freedom concerns"
"ROME - Though so far it hasn’t become a cause célèbre, police in Italy, the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with more than 10,000 deaths, quietly have been slapping both priests and worshippers gathering in churches with citations for violating the terms of a nationwide lockdown.
In theory the citations could lead to fines or even jail terms, despite constitutional protections in Italy guaranteeing freedom of religion. These crackdowns have sparked debate among Catholics and legal experts.
Under the terms of Italy’s quarantine, only four reasons are recognized as legitimate for moving about outside one’s home: Visiting a grocery store or pharmacy; going to work, if the job is regarded as 'essential'; visiting a doctor or hospital for a health emergency; and getting home from any of the above.
While holding a Eucharistic adoration service recently with around 10-20 people, all spaced out in different pews inside the church to observe social distancing protocols, police nevertheless disbanded the small group and issued formal citations to everyone present, meaning they could be subject to criminal procedures and fines of over 200 euros, roughly amounting to $225."
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