For months, the more than 300,000 Catholics that make up for Fall River Diocese have been prevented from attending mass, conducting proper funerals for their dead, and freely practicing their religious believes as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Our secular government leaders – who claim to be among the faithful – disallowed the celebration of Easter, the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And still no pushback from the church.

Some parishioners have reluctantly accepted the restrictions on their religious freedom in the name of public safety. But patience is running out. The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits government interference in the free practice of one's religion even in times of emergency. In other words, politicians have no right to play God.

Religious leaders of all faiths and denominations wanting to keep the flock safe from COVID-19 have cooperated with Governor Charlie Baker by respecting his order that prohibits regular church behavior. The faithful have been asked to endure this plague without the benefit of attending religious services. The time has come to open our houses of worship once more.

Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha of the Fall River Diocese has been silent too long on the suffering of those who are being denied access to their church. It is time the Bishop rise in opposition to this government restraint on religious freedom. Bishop da Cunha can no longer be still as Catholics and their brothers and sisters of all other faiths are denied their God-given right to worship as they chose.

I am calling on Bishop da Cunha to speak out on behalf of the faithful by demanding an immediate end to these restrictions and the prompt re-opening our houses of worship.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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