Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "The spiritual life is a central element of humanity, it cannot be excluded from people's lives", said His Exc. Mgr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja, greeting the lifting of the ban on religious gatherings in churches and other places of worship in Nigeria, decreed on June 1, by the Nigerian presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
Mgr. Kaigama believes that with the opening of places of worship "reason has prevailed" and that "the government has seen the great importance of a spiritual approach to this crisis. They were attempting to solve it from the medical point of view, scientific point of view and other social issues that they felt were of utmost importance. But they forgot that the spiritual is a great aspect that they should have considered. Now that we are allowed to worship they would see the difference. God will do something. They will see the difference. God will intervene, through our individual prayers and through our liturgical assembly. So, let’s wait for God’s intervention, it’s already taking place and more will come", hopes the Archbishop of Abuja,
Mgr. Kaigama adds: "To starve people of communal worship wasn’t very helpful, yes we are aware we needed to take all the precautions. Now that things seem to be going fairly well, people are allowed to worship, we thank the federal government and thank all those who have intervened".
The reopening of the places of worship, which had been closed two months ago as part of the Covid-19 prevention measures, is based on strict compliance with the guidelines and safety protocols issued by the specific task force.
According to Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of June 2, Nigeria — Africa’s most populous country — had the highest number of coronavirus cases in the West African region and the third highest in the continent behind South Africa and Egypt.
On June 1, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control reported 10,578 confirmed cases, with 3,122 recoveries and 299 deaths. The cases are increasing. Just a month ago, on May 2, the number of confirmed cases stood at 2,388, with 85 deaths.
Back in May, the Catholic Bishops' Conference on Nigeria offered the government all of the country's 425 church-run health care facilities to use as isolation centers. Additionally, some priests who have expertise in epidemiology were sent as volunteers by the bishops' conference to support the government.
Dioceses and parishes across the country have also distributed relief packages including food, face masks, hand sanitizers and gloves to help those whose livelihoods have been affected because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions across the Country. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 9/6/2020)