AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The Bishop of Tombura-Yambio asks the government to allow the reopening of churches "in safety"

Wednesday, 10 February 2021 coronavirus   bishops   local churches  

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - "The benefits of public worship are enormous because most people in my diocese have little or no access to technology", says His Exc. Mgr. Edward Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of Tombura-Yambio who addressed an appeal to the government to lift the ban on public worship decided on February 3 to cope with the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. The suspension of Masses and other liturgies in the church is part of the confinement and social distancing measures which include the ban on all social gatherings, such as sporting events, religious events including Sunday Masses, prayers in mosques, funerals, wedding ceremonies and political events.
Following this ban, His Exc. Mgr Matthew Remijio, Bishop of Wau, on February 4 decided to suspend all public liturgical celebrations (see Fides, 9/2/2021), inviting the faithful to follow the Masses through the means of social communication.
On Sunday 7 February, the diocese of Yei also closed all places of prayer in line with government directives. The Bishop of the diocese His Exc. Mgr. Erkolano Lodu Tombe, said in this regard that the public celebrations had been suspended because of the Covid-19, adding: "Let us recognize the situation and take care of ourselves, doing what we can within our limits, maintaining social distances, wearing masks and washing our hands. We have to adhere to the guidelines provided by the government of South Sudan and the Ministry of Health".
Mgr. Hiiboro, however, stressed the importance of the church as a place of consolation for people who are currently going through difficulties during the pandemic. They must therefore remain accessibile to the faithful, who must adhere to security guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of the virus. "At a time like this, the Church is there to offer comfort and spiritual support to all. We have a duty to take care of each other, but in particular those who are vulnerable or who may be most at risk".
"In a crisis like the one we are experiencing - he added - we would like to urge the government to consult with the churches on the best way to fight the problem with all our energies and all our resources".
According to daily updates from the Public Health Laboratory, January and February saw an increase in the number of Covid-19 infections in South Sudan.
On February 2 alone, the country recorded 76 new cases, the highest number this year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 10/2/2021)