, 23 June, 2020 / 8:00 PM
The people of God in Chad will have to wait for a little while before they can take part in public Mass as Bishops in the Central African nation are engaging relevant stakeholders in consultation and in prayer before they can announce “a realistic date.”
“We bishops have decided to consult, reflect and pray together before deciding on a realistic date for the resumption of Eucharistic celebrations and to give clear guidelines that can help both our Christian communities in cities and towns,” the members of the Episcopal Conference of Chad (CET) have said in a press release issued Tuesday, June 23.
They add in reference to their aim to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infections, “As pastors, our major concern is to do everything possible to ensure that our Eucharistic celebrations do not become a source of massive contamination for the faithful and therefore for those with whom we live.”
“We well understand the impatience of many faithful who would like to start the community celebrations again soon, but we call on you to be patient,” the Prelates urge in their statement signed by CET Chairman, Archbishop Goetbé Edmond Djitangar.
In a televised address to the nation June 17, Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno eased the restrictions imposed on religious activities directing that public worship could resume as from June 25, the worshipers and their leaders strictly respecting safety measures such as wearing face masks, sanitizing, physical distancing, among other precautionary measures.
From the 860 reported cases of COVID-19 in the country, 757 have recovered from the disease; 74 people have lost their lives.
In their June 23 collective statement, the Bishops ask “Priests and leaders of Christian communities to reflect on how we can resume our celebrations while respecting the requested preventive measures.”
“We understand that the decision to open places of worship does not mean that the virus has been eradicated and that this opening must be done in stages and with precautions to be taken,” the Prelates note.
They are concerned because many in the country disregard the preventive measures put in place such as hand washing, wearing masks, physical distancing in public places.
“We wonder if our Christian communities are capable of doing better and if we have the capacity to ensure health security for the faithful in our communities and places of worship as recommended by the health authorities,” the Bishops probe.
All these preventive measures are not easy to apply and maintain, especially because the assemblies are generally very numerous and our celebrations are lively and eventful, they note.
“We must first of all want to sensitize the faithful through our diocesan radio stations or other means of communication. We also need to mobilize resources to allow the observation of these measures and finally ensure the regular disinfection of places of worship," they explain, adding that they “need time before reopening churches and chapels.”
“The Episcopal Conference of Chad will meet in the days ahead and at the end of the meeting a new declaration will be published to give you a better idea of where we stand,” the members of CET say and clarify, “As pastors, understand that your physical health is as much a concern to us as your spiritual life.”
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