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Individual Bishops in Zambia to Make “final decision” on Resuming Public Celebrations

Members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB)

Members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) have resolved to have individual Local Ordinaries in the Southern African nation make “the final decision” on the resumption of liturgical celebrations in their respective dioceses, including the measures to curb the possible spread of COVID-19. 

“After a due process of consultation, we have resolved to entrust the Local Ordinaries with the mandate of making the final decision as to when, where and how the liturgical celebrations and other Church gatherings will resume,” the Bishops in Zambia said Saturday, May 23.

“In principle, the agreement is that this will be not only a cautious but also a gradual process to be guided by the Local Ordinaries in their respective jurisdictions,” the Bishops added in their collective statement in which they propose the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, May 31 as the possible date for reopening of their churches for public worship.

While addressing the nation on April 24, Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu said that places of worship may reopen after they had been closed as one of the measures to curb the possible spread of COVID-19. However, while some Christian denominations went ahead to reopen their churches, the Catholic churches in the country have remained closed.

For instance, following the President’s directives, the Archbishop of Lusaka and the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Ndola, Archbishop Alick Banda directed the people of God under his care to wait for further guidance before they can resume public liturgical celebrations.

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While the resuming of liturgical celebrations has been left to the discretion of each Local Ordinary, the Bishops have however highlighted some conditions to consider in the resumption process.

“They will do so after making a thorough assessment of the local situation regarding the trends of the laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 and other related factors,” the Bishops say in their collective letter signed by ZCCB President, Bishop George Zumaire Lungu.

“It is also envisaged that due consultation shall be made with the local public health authorities,” they say and add that “necessary measures shall be put in place to ensure compliance with relevant public health regulations that are aimed at protecting and saving lives.”

Zambia has recorded at least 920 cases of COVID-19 including 336 recoveries and 7 deaths.

In their May 23 statement, the Bishops also remind the Clergy, Religious and lay faithful in their country to strictly adhere to the rules of hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.

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Further, they encourage the people of God in the southern Africa nation to have faith in God amid the challenges.

“Let us remember to put our faith and hope in the Lord,” the Bishops in Zambia say and quote the Gospel of Matthew, “Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest.”