Pretoria, 17 March, 2020 / 4:25 am (ACI Africa).
Following the declaration by South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa that COVID-19 is a national disaster in the country, the first declaration of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa with 61 cases confirmed, the Catholic Bishops there have directed clergy, religious and the lay faithful to observe preventive measures including a not-more-than 100-person congregation at Holy Mass.
“The Catholic Church has also considered what the State President has issued in terms of limiting the crowd of worshippers to hundred (100). Attendance of Sunday Mass is to be limited to a hundred,” reads part of a statement issued by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) Monday, March 16.
In the statement, the Bishops who include those in Eswatini and Botswana encourage priests to celebrate “more Masses to smaller groups.”
Bishops, on their part, “will grant a dispensation from the normal obligations to attend Sunday Mass and the other sacramental celebrations to the elderly, the sick and children.”
Signed by SACBC President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, the collective statement instructs the clergy to be careful and prudent in the administration, celebration and attendance of the Sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders.