, 25 March, 2020 / 6:32 AM
The Catholic Bishops in Kenya have, in a collective statement Monday, March 23, officially suspended the celebration of public Mass and other Church gatherings in line with the government’s directives to control the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on all forms of religious gatherings.
“We suspend the public daily and Sunday Masses, and other liturgical and pastoral activities involving the gathering of the Faithful,” reads part of the March 23 statement by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) seen by ACI Africa.
In the statement, the Bishops in Kenya instruct Priests to “continue celebrating daily Mass privately without the Faithful for the intentions of the Parishioners and the Nation.”
In order to ensure that the faithful are spiritually nourished during this time, the Bishops have, in the two-page statement, invited Priests to be available “to creatively accompany the individual Faithful pastorally, including the Anointing of the Sick, Communion outside the Mass, and other spiritual nourishment, while observing the social distance and high level of hygiene.”
In their collective statement, the Prelates have also urged Priests to avail their contacts to the Faithful for easy reach when necessary.
The Church leaders have urged the faithful in Kenya “to read and reflect on the Word of God, offer individual prayers, recite the Holy Rosary, pray the Novenas and carry out other spiritual exercises in their respective homes.”
“We will all continue praying to God wherever we are to bring to an end this Coronavirus pandemic and the current sufferings of the people,” the Catholic leaders have promised and added, “We urge all Christians to use this time of restriction in their homes to strengthen their family ties by sharing moments and planning together their programs, projects and other common ventures, while observing the social distance guide.”
Signed by KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Philip Anyolo, the statement expresses the Bishops’ pledge to keep the people of God “in our prayers as we seek the divine intervention to end this pandemic which is threatening the lives of the people in the whole world.”
“As Christians, let us all intensify our prayers, put our hope, and trust in God who is able to heal and protect us from all the diseases,” the Bishops state.
The Bishops’ March 23 collective statement also addresses the reaction from the government when the Catholic Bishops announced, in their March 19 message, that Churches would remain open as a place where the people of God can “find solace and strength from God,” a declaration that angered the government.
On Sunday, March 22, Kenya’s Interior Principal Secretary, Karanja Kibicho tasked administrative officers with the responsibility of ensuring that no religious gatherings take place in their respective jurisdictions saying, “Ensure all churches, mosques and temples are closed. If any are found open within your area, you will be held personally responsible.”
“Moving forward, we shall be engaging the Government to involve the Church leaders before making some pronouncements so as to avoid issuance of directives that are gravely injurious to the Faith,” the Catholic Bishops stated in the March 23 collective statement.
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa