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Maintain Vigilance Till COVID-19 No Longer Threatens Life: Catholic Bishop in South Africa

Bishop Sylvester David, Auxiliary Bishop of South Africa’s Cape Town Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Catholic Bishop in South Africa has called up on the people of God in the country to continue observing all health protocols to minimize the spread of COVID-19 amid reports of a decline in the number of new cases.

On December 30, a special Cabinet meeting in South Africa approved several changes to COVID-19 regulations after the country’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) reported to the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) a “29.7% decrease in the number of new cases detected in the week ending 25 December 2021 (89,781), compared to the number of new cases detected in the previous week (127,753),” according to a South African Government report.

“Until such time that COVID-19 no longer poses a threat to life, we must maintain our vigilance,” the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cape Town says in a Tuesday, January 4 statement. 

In the statement, Bishop Sylvester Anthony David urges the people of God in South Africa “to properly wear masks, to avoid close physical contact, and to continue with the recommended hygiene practices.”

“It is also necessary to strive for brevity in our celebrations during this time of restrictions,” Bishop David recommends.

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Making reference to the approved changes to COVID-19 regulations in parts of South Africa, the member of the Member of Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) recognizes the fact that the National Department of Health has given religious entities a go ahead to lessen COVID-19 restrictions and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is positive that the country is able to treat her populace.

He says, “We appear to be in a better position now than prior to the onset of the previous wave.”

In line with the recommendations of the National Department of Health, Bishop David says, the leadership of the Archdiocese of Cape Town has reconsidered some of the restrictions placed during liturgical celebrations in preparation of “some sort of normalization in the future.”

The South African Bishop highlights some of the changes in the Archdiocese.

He calls up on Parish Priests/Administrators and lay leaders to increase the numbers from the present thirty percent to no more than fifty percent of the seating capacity of the church.

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“Choirs of no more than six members suitably distanced and all wearing masks may be engaged,” Bishop David notes in his January 4 statement, adding, “The arrangement of one or two cantors might still be suitable for some parts of the liturgy.”

The faithful need to practice caution at all times and avoid crowding at the entrance and exit points of church buildings, he says, and advices, “It might be useful to have ushers in attendance so as to manage the situation.”

There is need for the elderly and those with comorbidities to “take advantage of the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation granted by the Archbishop for this time of danger,” the Auxiliary Bishop of Cape Town Archdiocese says. 

“We are applying our minds to the lifting of the dispensation and ask that parishes plan for this to happen prior to Easter this year. In this regard we will have to monitor the situation very carefully and be guided by the recommendations of the NICD,” says Bishop David in his January 4 statement.