Laxity in COVID-19 Preventive Measures, Political Manipulation Concerns in CAR: Cardinal

Dieudonné Cardinal Nzapalainga during the concluding Eucharistic celebration for CAR’s Annual National Pilgrimage Saturday, December 5.
Credit: Facebook Page Archdiocese of Bangui

The laxity in adhering to COVID-19 preventive measure and political manipulation ahead of elections in the Central African Republic (CAR) are two concerns that the country’s Cardinal has highlighted.

In his homily at the concluding Eucharistic celebration for CAR’s Annual National Pilgrimage Saturday, December 5, Dieudonné Cardinal Nzapalainga invited his compatriots to listen to the health authorities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and to beware of political manipulators ahead of the December 27 poll.

“We are seeing everywhere laxity in the respect of preventive measures recommended to stem the spread of the coronavirus,” Cardinal Nzapalainga said, addressing pilgrims who gathered at the Shrine of Our Lady of Ngukomba for the 14th annual pilgrimage.

He added, “In the name of life, in the name of God, I invite you to take care of the life that God offers us and to obey the calls he addresses to us through the mediation of the competent health authorities.”

CAR has recorded at least 4,922 cases of the pandemic including 63 deaths and 1,924 recoveries.

Reflecting on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Archbishop of Bangui noted, “This deadly virus has exposed the limits of our human capacities. Man, despite the prowess of technology, medical and neuroscientific advances, discovers that he remains fragile and vulnerable.”

The member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans) continued, “The tragedy caused by the virus spares no society, no people, no nation; even countries that have reached a high level of economic development are affected.”

“This observation commits us to be in solidarity, to be compassionate towards one another, to be humble and to respect, with scrupulous obedience, the measures and gestures that can stop the spread of the virus,” Cardinal Nzapalainga said December 5.

The Cardinal also reflected on the laxity in spirituality due to the fear of coronavirus disease saying, “Some of our brothers and sisters, for fear of this disease, no longer respond to calls that the Lord addresses to us through the voice of His Church to the liturgical assemblies.” 

“Never has the safeguarding or care of one's health meant lukewarmness or coldness in the life of faith. God has never diminished in the love with which he loves us. On the contrary, he reveals himself to us as the Father who is able to seek the lost sheep until he finds it,” he said.

He added, “We are fragile beings, marked by sin and, no matter how advanced our science and technology may be, no matter how great our material means may be, no matter how radiant our knowledge may be, without God, we are nothing.”

"In this troubled context, the voice of Archangel Gabriel is particularly addressed to us. Let us not be afraid because the Lord is coming soon and because already the light of his sacrifice on the cross is shining in our lives. This is the message of hope!” the 53-year-old Cardinal further said.

He implored, “May the Lord help us to have compassion for the victims of the coronavirus and to preserve us from all negligence and contamination.”

The December 3-5 event had pilgrims engage in different activities including Eucharistic celebrations, Eucharistic adoration, recitation of the Holy Rosary, the Way of the Cross, devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, among others.

In his December 5 homily, Cardinal Nzapalainga also cautions the citizens of CAR against manipulative politicians ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for December 27.

“During elections, we often see the excessive practice of political manipulation,” the Cardinal noted.

He explained, “Manipulative politicians are merchants of illusions; they promise what they can never deliver. They want to seduce in order to achieve their end.”

“Political manipulators are joined by another kind of seducers: those who strive to buy people’s right to vote with money or other materials things,” the Cardinal observed.

He urged the people of God in the Central African nation to “discern, in all maturity, among all the voices, those who desire their full development.”

“I urge the candidates and their messengers to be like the Angel Gabriel, bearers of messages of peace and reconciliation, of realistic development projects for the common interest, instead of playing the game of the tempting serpent whose message led to the fall,” the Cardinal said, looking toward the readings of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary marked December 8.

He continued, “Every pilgrimage is an unprecedented opportunity for graces. Its organization is not just a human desire: God is always at the initiative. It is He who has aroused in us the desire to walk all together towards the holy mountain where he awaits us, the sanctuary of Ngukomba, where we come to snuggle in the hands of the Virgin Mary.”

“It is God who sets us on our way. It is important that, in all humility, like Mary, we respond positively to his call,” Cardinal Nzapalainga told pilgrims.

He implored, “May the Blessed Virgin take us in her arms, in her heart as big as the world, to protect us from the coronavirus.”

“May the Holy Spirit, in his humble and faithful prayer, increase faith, hope and charity in us and lead us resolutely towards the feast of Christmas,” the Cardinal further implored.


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