Priest in residence, Father Nick Meisl listens to a physically distanced confession in a parking garage at St. Patrick’s Parish in Vancouver, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Priest in residence, Father Nick Meisl listens to a physically distanced confession in a parking garage at St. Patrick’s Parish in Vancouver, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

White Rock Catholic church joins petition for B.C. government to allow in-person services

Star of the Sea Catholic Parish asks parishioners to consider signing document

A White Rock Catholic church has joined others in promoting a petition addressed to Premier John Horgan to adjust COVID-19 regulations and allow churches to hold in-person services.

The petition, started by Father James Hughes from St. Patrick’s Parish in Vancouver, says it’s unfair that some businesses and commercial services are allowed to continue operations but not community churches.

“Although it is true that we can pray through online services, Roman Catholics must gather in person in order to receive Holy Communion while other religions also have rites which must be done in person safely that the online experience cannot replace,” Hughes wrote.

“We would appreciate a reconsideration of the present Provincial Order.”

As of Tuesday (Dec. 8) morning, the petition had collected 2,254 signatures of a 2,500 goal.

After people sign the document, they’re asked to provide a reason for their decision.

Many of the signatories commented that their church has been following safety protocols, including mandating masks, promoting social distancing and regular cleaning.

“I don’t understand why churches are closed while every other business remains open,” Bonnie Way wrote. “We’ve followed safe, careful protocols at church. Let us keep gathering.”

However, some comments promote inaccurate information and push conspiracy theories.

“All this crap so big pharma can increase vaccine sales. Let’s gather and stand up against this injustice against them suppressing our human needs and rights,” Ken Blucke wrote on the petition.

Star of the Sea Catholic Parish published a link to the petition on Facebook on Dec. 6, asking parishioners to consider signing the document.

SEE ALSO: B.C. church defies provincial ban on in-person services for second time A Langley church that was fined for holding in-person services a week ago held them again Dec. 6, with what one witness described as “bylaw officers” observing from the parking lot.

However, no tickets were issued to the Riverside Calvary church at the time, said Kari Simpson, executive director of the Langley-based Culture Guard group.

Two other churches in Chilliwack have defied the order against in-person services as well, calling it a violation of the Charter of Rights.

– with files from Dan Ferguson