COVID-19 Crisis “a particular prophetic moment in our lives”: South African Prelate

Archbishop Abel Gabuza, Coadjutor Archbishop of Durban, South Africa.
Credit: Public Domain

A Prelate in South Africa has, in a reflection about COVID-19 in the country, described the situation of the pandemic as “a particular prophetic moment in our lives,” which calls for the fostering of the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. 

“This particular crisis of COVID-19 is a particular prophetic moment in our lives. It calls us to remain strong, steadfast in our faith, love and hope. As we wake up and face each day, let us see each day as a gift. Let us face each day with courage and hope,” the Coadjutor Archbishop of Durban, Abel Gabuza reflects.

In the reflection published Monday, August 3 by the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa  (IMBISA), Archbishop Gabuza notes that “the presence of COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest pain to all of us. It is a test about our faith, hope and love.”

“As members of the Body of Christ, it is imperative that we remind ourselves of the virtues of hope, faith and charity,” the 65-year-old South African Archbishop underscores in his reflection.

South Africa, the country with the highest record of the coronavirus in Africa, has reported at least 516,862 cases of the disease including 358,037 recoveries and 8,539 related deaths. The country has introduced a raft of measures including a dusk to dawn curfew, temporary suspension of public worship and the closure of schools and borders to minimize the risk of contagion.

In his reflection, Archbishop Gabuza notes that the disease which was first recorded in the country in March has “forced (us) to stop and take a long pause about our normal activities.”

“Our spaces of education, business, sports and other social activities have been put on hold. Our way of visiting the sick, our way of coming together to worship has taken a serious dent. When we have to bury our loved ones, we are being rushed in order for our dead to be put away without us doing proper closure,” he says.

The Archbishop continues, “Daily, we have to sit down and listen to the bad news about the many who are infected and the number of those who have died.”

“As COVID-19 scythes a swath of death, the news about those who are on the way of recovery does not move away the pain, the fear and the panic we have. Ours is not a pleasant situation. We can feel the abject helplessness in our veins,” he further says in his reflection.

He continues, “We can be dominated by paralysis, fear and despair. It can be difficult to have any positive attitudes about the future.”

“Our situation may have given birth to many cynics. There are voices that are loud and they keep saying that we are being punished by God. God has had enough of our wickedness, and now we deserve punishment. The COVID-19 pandemic is our punishment and our moment of having a taste of the weeping and grinding of teeth. The reality is that we will always have prophets of doom in our midst,” the South African Archbishop observes in his reflection.

In combating the disease, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Durban encourages the people of God in his country “to let go of being cynical and about to throw our hands into the air and give up.”

“The call for us today in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is to continue the journey of staying spiritually healthy. As people of faith, we are presented with challenges we cannot ignore. It can be easy to be swallowed by hopelessness and despair,” the Prelate further reflects.

Quoting the member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Fr. Ron Rolheiser, the Archbishop invites the people of God to “have a contemplative practice each day that includes prayer.”

“The way to survive and thrive in this situation of COVID-19 is to be creative with all the time we have in order to free ourselves from being bored, frustrated and paralysed,” he adds referencing Fr. Ron Rolheiser.

Archbishop Gabuza draws words of encouragement from the Biblical text of Joshua saying, “Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go.” 


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
[email protected]