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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The heads of Minnesota’s Catholic and Lutheran churches say they will defy Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order and reopen on May 26 — without adhering to the requirement of no more than 10 worshipers at a given service.

The law firm Becket released a statement early Wednesday evening on behalf of the Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Minnesota, citing the perceived hypocrisy of allowing retail stores, casinos, bars and restaurants to have a 50% capacity as a major reason to not follow the governor’s order.

“Governor Walz’s latest re-opening order allows the Mall of America to open its doors to those seeking retail therapy but disallows churches from providing spiritual healing to their congregations,” the statement read.

READ MORE: Many Restaurants Surprised By Gov. Walz’s Outdoor Seating Requirement To Reopen

Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt also expressed his misgivings with the order when it comes to churches.

“Why are churches limited to 10 people outdoors while hundreds of people can gather in the aisles of big box stores?” Daudt said.

In a joint letter sent by Minnesota’s seven Catholic bishops to parishioners Wednesday, they underlined the need for the community of faith to be able to together during the pandemic.

“As Pope Francis has said, the church must be a field hospital, ministering to all, but especially the poor and vulnerable. He has cautioned that overly drastic measures that limit church life will have a disproportionate impact on ‘the little ones’ and those who have no one to rely on,” the bishops said. “An order that sweeps so broadly that it prohibits, for example, a gathering of 11 people in a Cathedral with a seating capacity of several thousand defies reason.”

Both denominations say they plan to reopen with only about a third of their congregation inside during services, and they will follow social distancing guidelines.

Teddy Tschann, spokesperson for Gov. Walz, gave this statement to WCCO Thursday night:

As the Governor has said, this is a challenging situation for him personally and a challenging situation for him as a public official charged with protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans. He remains in routine communication with faith leader across the state and understands the toll this pandemic is taking on the spiritual health of Minnesotans. Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health will be meeting with the Archdiocese this week.

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