AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - The South African Church hit hard by Covid-19; Christian leaders: "Do not delay vaccines"

Thursday, 7 January 2021 coronavirus   local churches   pandemic  

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "We appeal to Government to pull out all the stops to ensure urgent rollout of the vaccine, which is a public good" say the Christian leaders of South Africa, in a note from the South African Council of Churches (SACC) "It is cause for significant concern to think that we must continue to watch our people dying as we wait for the first confirmed COVAX vaccines to arrive in the county in the second quarter of the year. If any other steps can be taken to bring vaccines into the country sooner, let there be no human hindrance to that process".
COVAX is a program which was launched in April by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission and France in response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, aimed at producing 2 billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021. All participating Countries, regardless of income levels, will have equal access to these vaccines once developed.
South African authorities have so far not ensured a certain supply of vaccines or a plan for mass inoculation. This portends the worst devastation of Covid-19 in the year to come for the country.
"While we are awaiting such vaccines to reach our shores, there are already visible repercussions of Covid-19 being felt and I am afraid such effects have dire consequences for the Church in South Africa", writes Fr. Elias Ledwaba, South African priest. "Covid-19 has negatively affected church attendance. This global pandemic, at least in my parochial jurisdiction has exposed demographics; it became crystal clear that the church is comprises of an older generation which is mostly susceptible and stands at a higher risk of infection and eventually succumbing to Covid-19. This fact poses as a challenge to device means of reaching out to this group of people and to propose new ways of youth and young adult evangelization".
"Therefore, Covid-19 has challenged parishes and dioceses to be forward thinking and to find ways to keep themselves financially afloat. If the trajectory of Covid-19 continues at it is, I am afraid a sizeable number of parishes will have to be merged or even closed", underlines Fr. Ledwaba, who also remembers the various priests and religious affected by the virus.
The priest concludes with a note of hope: "I am consoled by the fact that Covid-19 has provided people with a prolonged “retreat” to assess their relationship with God, to strengthen family bonds and to grow spiritually; to introspect and make certain behavioural changes and to learn to appreciate everything we have. As we struggle with this invisible yet felt enemy, let us always remember that there is always a light at the end of a tunnel". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 7/1/2021)