Reopening of Churches in Botswana “light at the end of the tunnel,” Bishop Says

Bishop Frank Nubuasah, SVD of Botswana's Gaborone diocese.
Credit: Public Domain

Following the decision by the parliament of the landlocked Southern African nation of Botswana to begin a gradual lifting of the five-week COVID-19 lockdown, a Bishop in the two-diocese country has welcomed the move, terming it “light at the end of the turnel.”

“We are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the reopening of the churches,” the Bishop of Gaborone diocese, Frank Nubuasah noted in his Saturday, May 9 statement seen by ACI Africa.

Noting that “people have different understanding of the outcome” of the parliamentary discussion to ease restrictions, the Prelate who is a member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) Missionaries has clarified that churches can reopen from May 21 but under strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

To enforce social distancing, the Ghanaian-born Bishop has informed the faithful that in line with the parliamentary guidelines, the “number of congregants should not exceed 50.”

“Two Masses are permitted per week,” Bishop Nubuasah has directed in the one-page letter and recommended, “I suggest you have one Mass on Friday and on Sunday.”

According to the 71-year-old Prelate, Christians will not require permits to attend Mass within the same zone or parish.

He thanked the faithful for their cooperation during the lockdown and assured them that their prayers “have been helpful and appreciated by all.”

Botswana, a country of 2.2 million people has an estimated 5-6 percent of Catholics spread across two dioceses: Gaborone diocese to the south and Francistown diocese to the north.

The two dioceses are under the ecclesiastical province of Pretoria, South Africa and fall under the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC).

With 28 confirmed COVID-19 cases and one related death, lawmakers in the country on Wednesday, May 6 approved proposals by President Mokgweetsi Masisi to gradually lift the lockdown so as to allow for the reopening of the economy and schools.

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
[email protected]