“Rite of Opening Holy Door” in Cathedrals in Gabon to Mark Resumption of Public Worship

Saint Mary's Cathedral in Libreville Gabon.

The resumption of public worship in Catholic churches in Gabon slated to take place on Sunday, October 25 will be marked by the “Rite of Opening the Holy Door” in all Cathedrals in the Central African nation, the members of the Episcopal Conference of Gabon (CEG) have announced at the end of their Extraordinary Plenary Assembly.

In their collective statement dated Sunday, October 4 and shared with ACI Africa, CEG members explain the reason behind the October 25 event that will see the reopening of places of worship since March.

“After the closure of an operational church, even for a just cause, and for a long time, when ordained ministers and the faithful are available, it is appropriate to proceed to its reopening by a special rite, preceded by a time of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving,” the Bishops explain in their collective statement signed by CEG President, Bishop Mathieu Madega.

They have announced, “On Sunday 25 October 2020, Feast of the Dedication of Consecrated Churches, we, your Bishops, will celebrate the Passion of the Lord as a great penitential act in each of our Cathedrals with the ‘Rite of Opening the Holy Door.’”

The Bishops say that the objective of the Rite is “to implore God's mercy on our Nation and all its inhabitants.”


Places of worship in Gabon were closed in mid-March when the Central African nation recorded its first case of COVID-19.

In September, Gabon's Minister of Interior cautioned religious leaders in the country against reopening their respective places of worship without government authorization saying there would be consequences.

“Any attitude that sounds like a challenge to public authority will not be tolerated,” Minister Lambert-Noël was quoted as saying at a press conference on September 26, clarifying, however, that there is no conflict between the religious leaders and the government.

The gradual easing of COVID-19 preventive measures in Gabon began on June 30. The country has recorded at least 8,797 cases of the pandemic including 54 deaths and 8,067 recoveries.

In their October 4 collective statement, the Bishops in Gabon thank God “for sparing our country from the high rate of mortality experienced by certain nations, for and with whom we continue to pray.”

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“We must learn to live with diseases, especially COVID-19, and we urge those in power to take action for the common good,” the members of CEG add.

They acknowledge the “great patience and perseverance” on the part of Priests, Deacons, Religious men and women, the consecrated and the Lay faithful amid COVID-19 challenges.

The Bishops invite the people of God in Gabon to remain “faithful, stand firm and steadfast.”

“Do not let yourselves be led astray from the hope you have received by hearing the Gospel proclaimed to every creature on earth,” the Bishops tell the Christian faithful under their care.

They go on to clarify that “the reopening of the churches will not be a magical act that will solve all the problems we faced before the arrival of the pandemic and which have even increased with it, such as unemployment, health, education, security, poverty, etc.”


For this reason, the Prelates urge the people of God in the Central African nation “to strengthen acts of charity and solidarity experiences that go beyond assistance.”

“We invite all members of the Church to enter into a process of radical conversion, constantly seeking God's will. Do not let yourselves be led astray by all kinds of diverse and foreign doctrines that corrupt our habits and structures,” the Bishops further say.

They also call on the faithful to “reject that which is contrary to our faith, especially concubinage, adultery, incest, abortion, homosexuality, pedophilia, corruption, witchcraft, ritual crimes, etc.”

Reflecting on the major highlights of the month of October as the missionary month and the month of the Rosary, the Bishops “invite all Christians to recite the Rosary every day, individually, in the family or in the community.”

“Let us ask the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Gabon, to intercede for us so that our country may be delivered from evil and that all its children may live in peace, according to God's will,” the members of CEG implore.

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Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.