Johannesburg, 26 March, 2020 / 12:00 am (ACI Africa).
With at least 2,455 cases of COVID-19 confirmed across not less than 43 countries in Africa, various Catholic dioceses on the continent have announced pastoral guidelines aligned with directives issued by their respective governments in a bid to control the spread of the virus.
In South Africa where a national lockdown is scheduled to start Thursday, March 26 midnight, the Archdiocese of Johannesburg has suspended public Masses for at least the 21 days during the lockdown.
Referencing the March 23 directive by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Archbishop of Johannesburg, Buti Tlhagale has announced, “All public Masses, both on weekdays and weekends are suspended indefinitely with effect on Thursday 26 March 2020 at midday until the lockdown is over and there is greater clarity on the way forward.”
In the March 25 statement seen by ACI Africa, the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) Prelate has also cancelled Chrism Mass “during Holy Week” and postponed it “until further notice,” a decision that conforms to the exhortations from Pope Francis published March 20.
Noting that “Easter constitutes the heart of the entire liturgical year” and “therefore cannot be transferred to a later time,” the Archbishop has announced the cancellation of “Easter Triduum celebrations (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil).”