Church Leaders in Ghana Petition for Increase of Public Mass Duration after Lockdown

Archbishop Philip Naameh, Metropolitan Archbishop of Tamale and President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Credit: Public Domain

Leaders of various Christian groups in Ghana have petitioned the President of the West Africa country, Nana Akufo-Addo to reconsider the government directive that church services be conducted within one hour.

“The leaders of the various Christian groups are of the view that the time allocated for church services needs to be reconsidered since religious groups and for that matter, churches have abided by all regulations and safety protocols laid down by the government,” Archbishop Philip Naameh, President of Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC), told a local media Wednesday, July 1.

Archbishop Naameh who is the Local Ordinary of the Tamale Archdiocese observed that people who are used to having worship for three or four hours were finding it difficult to adjust to the one hour that the President also prescribed in the set of the COVID-19 directives.

“We don’t dispute the logic behind one hour. We understand that the more you waste time together in a big gathering, the greater the risk that people may get infected.” he said.

The Ghanaian Archbishop added, “But honestly if we have proved that we can observe all other safety measures, including church fumigation, wearing of masks, hand sanitization and avoiding all manner of physical interactions, I think we can comfortably conduct our services within a little more than an hour. An hour and a half is all we ask for.”

He said that in Parishes where public Masses had resumed, the allowed maximum number of worshippers had been adhered to, that of 100 participants.

“Though there are churches that are very big, we have adhered to the small numbers of worshippers allowed nonetheless,” Archbishop Naameh said.

The stringent guidelines for the safe reopening of places of worship in Ghana elicited mixed reactions among members of the public, with some questioning the consistency of the government that allowed resumption of market activities and other social gatherings without any restrictions following the lifting of the partial lockdown.

Ghana’s President, May 31, eased the restrictions that had been imposed on social gatherings and directed that public religious activities would, on June 5, resume with a maximum of 100 people in every single service.

He said that the reopening of churches would be carried out in phases, with the first phase allowing for 25 percent of congregants who were supposed to observe a physical distance of one meter.

Meanwhile, religious leaders in Ghana have lamented about the recklessness displayed in the West African country where a section of the population, including religious leaders, are not adhering to safety protocols put in place to contain the spread of the virus.

Some pastors were imprisoned for flouting some COVID-19 safety protocols while some top government officials were shown not to adhere to social distancing rules.

Archbishop Naameh urged politicians to practice the laws of the land the way they urge citizens do to.

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