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As Lockdown is Eased in South Africa, Prelate Urges Vigilance, Says “virus still present”

Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town in South Africa.

Days after South Africa’s President eased some COVID-19 restrictions put in five months ago to minimize the spread of the virus, the Archbishop Cape Town has urged the people of God in his Diocese to remain vigilant and continue taking necessary precautions because the coronavirus has not yet been eliminated from the country. 

In his Wednesday, August 19 video reflection posted on the Archdiocese’s website, Archbishop Stephen Brislin says President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement shifting the COVID-19 status of the country to Level 2 lockdown starting Tuesday, August 18 is “wonderful news.” 

“While this is very good news, we must be vigilant not to become complacent and careless. The COVID-19 virus is still present among us and so we must continue to take all the precautions, such as washing or sanitizing our hands, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing,” Archbishop Brislin says. 

He continues in reference to observing the precautionary measures, “We have a responsibility to do so in order that the virus may be managed until such time as the danger has passed, which is going to take some time.”

“We are told that we will probably have to continue wearing masks for at least the next 12 months and this part of the “new normal,” Archbishop Brislin adds.

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In his Saturday, August 15 address to the nation, President Ramaphosa announced the easing of the lockdown that has been in place since March saying it will help revive the country’s economy after a period of hardship. 

However, the Head of State cautioned South Africans against putting their guard down saying that the country is “very much in the middle of a deadly pandemic.”

Having recorded 592,144 cases of the virus including 12,264 deaths and 485,468 recoveries, South Africa has reported the highest number of cases in Africa.

Statistics by Worldometers indicate that the country has the fifth-highest cases globally after the US, Brazil, Russia and India. 

In the August 19 video message, the Local Ordinary of Cape Town reflects on the readings of the day where prophet Ezekiel points to the leaders of Israel who were self-centered, focusing on their personal needs instead of caring for the people of God. 

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“It has always been one of the greatest temptations of leaders to slip into bad ways, to give way to greed and self-interest,” the 63-year-old Prelate says in the video message.

Referencing the COVID-19 corruption allegations in the country, the South African Prelate says, “We often see it in political leadership; regrettably we hear of it in our own country where there are even allegations of the gross misuse of funds dedicated for the health of people in these times of Covid-19.”

He continues, “Sadly, throughout history, there have been faith leaders who have not taken their responsibilities seriously and have placed their own interests above those of their flock, feeding themselves while disregarding the welfare of others.”

In the video message, Archbishop Brislin calls on South Africans to follow the teachings of prophet Ezekiel and apply his words “to our role in society, in the workplace and our involvement in different societies or organizations.”

He invites religious leaders an examination of their respective consciences, “questioning ourselves whether we are meeting up to the expectations God has of us in how we live our vocation and meet our obligations.”

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Turning to parents, the Archbishop says, “All too often we hear of those who neglect this beautiful vocation of parenthood, either by not caring about their children and ensuring that their needs are met, or by allowing their children to live their lives without guidance and without imparting Christian values to them.”

“Fathers and mothers too, are shepherds of their families and they have been given the responsibility of nurturing, loving and guiding their children,” Archbishop Brislin says.