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Amid Public Worship Suspension in Kenya, Bishop Urges Clerics to Foster “message of hope”

The Apostolic Administrator of Kenya's Nairobi Archdiocese, Bishop David Kamau

The Apostolic Administrator of Kenya’s Nairobi Archdiocese has encouraged members of the Clergy serving in the Metropolitan see to remains sources of encouragement and hope amid public worship suspension in sections of the East African nation.

On March 26, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta indefinitely suspended public worship in the counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos, Kajiado and Nakuru which are covered by the Archdiocese of Nairobi and parts of the Dioceses of Machakos, Ngong and Nakuru due to an upsurge in reported cases of COVID-19. 

In a Monday, March 29 statement addressed to Clerics serving in Nairobi Archdiocese, Bishop David Kamau says, “Priests are asked to give a message of hope and encouragement to Christ's Faithful so that they can confront the current situation with serenity knowing that with God's help, we shall overcome.”

While Eucharistic celebration in public, liturgical and pastoral activities involving the gathering of the faithful remain suspended in the Archdiocese of Nairobi, Bishop Kamau says, members of the Clergy should “celebrate Mass in private for the needs of Christ's faithful.”

Citing the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), the Kenyan Bishop directs, “Even if it is not possible to have the presence and active participation of the faithful, which bring out more plainly the ecclesial nature of the celebration, the Eucharistic celebration always retains its efficacy and dignity because it is the action of Christ and the church, in which the Priest fulfils his own principal office and always acts for the people's salvation.”

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“There is no better time to apply this principle than now,” the 66-year-old Bishop says in reference to the GIRM.

On March 26, Kenya’s Head of State said the five counties have recorded the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the third wave of the pandemic, justifying the “urgent and drastic measures” which also included the cessation of movement in and out of the areas. 

President Kenyatta also suspended public gatherings and in-person meetings “of whatever nature” in the Counties that he described as “disease infected areas.”

The East African nation has recorded at least 131,116 cases of the pandemic including 2,135 deaths and 92,161 recoveries.

In his March 29 message, Bishop Kamau says that meeting of Small Christian Communities (SCC) and Ecclesial group celebration of the Eucharist and prayers also “stand suspended.”

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In his message, the Kenyan Bishop also calls on the leadership of Religious Orders present in the Archdiocese to “take caution as to the Priests who visit to celebrate Mass in their communities.”

Chrism Mass, which is to be celebrated on Holy Thursday, April 1 at the Holy Family Minor Basilica, will take place “with only the Deans in attendance,” Bishop Kamau who was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Nairobi Archdiocese January 4 says.

He adds that “Easter Triduum celebrations will be done in private by Parish Priests in their respective Parishes.” 

Referencing the Sacraments of Confession and the Anointing of the Sick, the Bishop says that these Sacraments “can't be denied to anyone who asks for it,” and need to be administered in strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.

He adds, “Infant Baptism remains suspended unless in danger of death whereby necessary precautions must be taken.” 

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“Let us join hands to fight and protect ourselves from this virus and offer care for those already infected with this virus,” Bishop Kamau says in his March 29 statement.