Nigeria’s Owerri Archdiocese to Resume “Kiss of Peace” During Liturgical Celebrations

Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Nigeria's Owerri Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The leadership of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri in Nigeria has directed the resumption of the shaking of hands during liturgical celebrations following a decline in reported cases of COVID-19 in the West African nation.

In a Saturday, September 17 statement, the Chancellor of the Nigerian Archdiocese refers to the directive of the Local Ordinary, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji, adding that the decision is based on the deliberations of the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) during their 2022 second Plenary Assembly.

In the statement, Fr. Cosmas Uzoigwe says that Archbishop Ugorji “has directed that the traditional shaking of hands (Kiss of Peace) during Eucharistic celebration and other events in the liturgical celebrations of the Church should resume and come back to life.”

Fr. Uzoigwe adds, “Archbishop Ugorji recalls that the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to pronounce stringent guidelines which affected our liturgical worship, and one of such was that which restrained all from shaking hands during Mass.”

“The resolution to commence the liturgical gesture of shaking of hands came following the proceedings of the recently concluded Second Plenary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria held at Orlu,” the Nigerian Catholic Priest says.


In the statement that he shared with ACI Africa, Fr. Uzoigwe implores, “We thank God who led us through the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, we pray to Him to bless us always with His presence. Amen.”

Following the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019, countries across the globe imposed restrictions limiting movement of people and participating in public events in person, including Holy Mass.

The reduction in reported cases of the pandemic has forced many countries to progressively ease preventive measures.

As of September 12, Nigeria had recorded at least 264,617 confirmed cases of COVID19 including 257,954 recoveries and 3,824 related deaths.

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.