, 03 July, 2020 / 9:00 PM
Talks are underway between religious leaders in Mozambique and the country’s President Phillipe Nyusi to lift the lockdown on public worship, days after the President relaxed restrictions on select social activities in the Southern African country.
In their July 1 meeting, the representatives of various religious groups in the country presented a set of proposals towards safe reopening of place of worship to the President, lamenting that the religious worship had been sidelined in the process of easing restrictions on other sectors in the country.
Hinting on the details of the meeting, the President said, “We are going to address two themes, one being Covid-19.”
He added, “We will start by outlining the status in our country, how we have been managing this issue so far, and will end by commenting on the State of Emergency decree issued last week.”
The meeting was attended by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional and Religious Affairs and the Ministers of Education and the Interior (police).
Speaking to journalists, Helena Kida who represented the Ministry of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs at the meeting explained that religious leaders in the country wanted the same treatment as that in education, where classes are set to resume under certain conditions.
“What religious leaders propose is equal treatment with other activities that have already seen some relaxation. Part of this is to do with the need to limit, for example, the number of participants per event,” she said.
President Nyusi, on June 29, banned the holding of “collective religious services and celebrations,” noting that the celebrations were possible transmission spots for the coronavirus “because they are carried out indoors.”
The decree has been highly contested in the country, with many questioning the logic behind banning public worship while allowing learning in classrooms.
“Just as schools are opening, religious activities should be allowed to resume,” said Fr. Nelson Bernardo Covete in an interview with ACI Africa correspondent following the contested Presidential declarations.
According to Ms. Kida, considerations will be put in place in future engagements between the religious leaders and the State to chart a safe path towards reopening of places of worship considering the limitations of faith-based gatherings.
Such limitations, she said, include spacing challenges where some places of worship are smaller than others and the different age groups represented in the religious gatherings where the young mingle with vulnerable elderly persons.
"Tomorrow (July 2nd) we will have a meeting between the Ministry of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs and religious leaders and am I am sure we shall have a mature discussion,” the official from Mozambique’s Ministry of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs said.
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