14 April 2020, The Tablet

Some African countries keep churches open

Some African countries keep churches open

Nairobi, Kenya: 36 year old Pastor Samuel is seen worshiping alone at his church in Kibera, after president Uhuru Kenyatta on March 27, 2020 announced a curfew
Donwilson Odhiambo/Zuma Press/PA Images

Tanzanian Catholic Church bishops urged for prayers and strong observance of Covid-19 preventive measures, at the same time as thousands turned up in churches for Easter celebrations.

Tanzania is one the few African countries that have kept churches open, despite worldwide closures and lockdowns. Burundi, Tanzania’s southwestern neighbour is yet another, where churches and mosques, markets, restaurants among other venues are in operation.

The Tanzanian clerics maintain that science also needs God in the fight against the epidemic.

“Humans cannot fight the coronavirus alone, without the almighty God,” said Bishop Anthony Langwen of Mbulu diocese.

In Moshi, Bishop Loduvick Joseph Minde urged prayers for Christians across the world who could not gather in churches due to Covid-19. 

According to the clerics keeping the churches in their country open was a gift from God to the nation, where fewer than 50 Covid-19 cases have been reported. The church leaders also insisted on the strict observance of preventive measures recommended by the bishops and the government.

“Let’s use the gift to pray for those who didn’t get the opportunity to be in churches.  The situation is not good for some of the colleagues outside there,” said Bishop Minde.

President John Pombe Magufuli, a Catholic, in March told the churches and mosques to remain open to offer spiritual refuge and healing.

Most African countries have shut places of worship, schools, markets and restaurants, as well as many workplaces.

In Kenya, where cases have neared 200, Catholic bishops celebrated Masses in empty churches. They had urged the faithful to follow the celebrations through radio and television or on social media.

At the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri charged that greed and pride were the biggest viruses of the time.

“The rich are amassing wealth by robbing the poor through greed and lies during this time of the coronavirus,” said Archbishop Muheria in a service attended by 10 priests.

In Rwanda, Archbishop Antoine Kambanda delivered his sermon via national television. He said Easter was light in darkness, for the country which is challenged by coronavirus and is also preparing to remember the 1994 genocide victims.



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