As part of the efforts to prevent the spread of the disease, the Algerian government closed places of worship and suspended religious gatherings in the country in March.
In the July 18 interview, Archbishop Desfarges expressed his appreciation for the digital media that have been engaged to bring the word of God to the faithful amid COVID-19 restrictions.
“The means of communication, social networks, have gradually revealed all their usefulness and fertility. We have been able to successfully organize online training days, retreats with online accompaniment,” the members of the Society of Jesus told ACI Africa.
The 76-year-old Archbishop added referencing how Church leaders have engaged the digital media, “Chaplains can reach students on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and worship times using Zoom. Catechesis continued in the families to prepare for First Communion.”
“We have not seen the development of withdrawal, on the contrary. It seems to me that thanks to the telephone, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom or others, real attention to others, to the absent, to the elderly has developed,” the Archbishop further said in recollection and continued, “It is not only about the links in the Christian community, but also about all our relationships with our neighbors and friends in Algerian society.”
Though physical contact is lacking in the places of worship, “the experience of spiritual communion (or longing) increased spiritual thirst,” Archbishop Desfarges said.
“But I give thanks for the pastoral creativity that has allowed and still allows us to live this time of closure of places of worship not as a time of isolation, but a time to experience a real closeness to the Church. The desire to come together to celebrate together is great. There is a real lack of being together that is commensurate with our sense of ecclesial belonging, which has rather grown,” he further said.
He recognized the life of prayer at the family and community level saying, “Many, yes many, pray alone, in community, in family, in communion with the universal Church.”
Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.
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