Senegal’s Inter-Diocesan Entity Suspends Pilgrimage to Holy Land amid COVID-19 Challenges

Holy Land. Alexander Lande/Shutterstock

The leadership of Senegal’s National Inter-Diocesan Committee for Catholic Pilgrimages (CINPEC) has announced the cancellation of the 2021 pilgrimage to the Holy land amid “persistence” of COVID-19 pandemic in the West African nation.

“The National Inter-Diocesan Committee for Catholic Pilgrimages (CINPEC), acting in the name of the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Dakar, regrets to announce its decision to suspend the organization of the 2021 edition of the Catholic Pilgrimage to the Holy Sites of Christianity,” CINPEC officials say in a statement issued Wednesday, June 16.

They add, “Such a decision, taken after careful consideration, is essentially linked to the persistence of the pandemic in Senegal and in the world, especially in the countries traditionally visited by pilgrims.”

CINPEC leadership further says the decision to cancel the spiritual journey follows “an urgent recommendation of the Bishops of Senegal who, during their last session, held in Cap des Biches, had suggested the suspension of the Pilgrimage.”

Getting travel documents has also been problematic, the leadership says, and explains, “Foreign embassies, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese living Abroad, pointed out that they had no visibility on the period considered (August-September) to guarantee the delivery of visas to the future pilgrims, except for imperative reasons.”


“For all these reasons, and not wanting to take the slightest risk and potentially expose the lives of future pilgrims, it seemed more than appropriate to suspend operations and to resolutely join the dynamic of the fight against the pandemic,” CINPEC officials say.

They appeal for “understanding of all, especially future pilgrims who have regularly registered and who have, on many occasions, expressed their confidence in making this journey of faith in all serenity.”

“CINPEC renews its commitment, as a Church service, to work, as soon as the external conditions allow it, for the promotion, organization and supervision of the Catholic Pilgrimage to the Holy Places of Christianity,” CINPEC officials add.

They acknowledge “the wisdom of our Bishops who, since the beginning of the pandemic, have taken the full measure of their responsibilities to, each time, formulate relevant recommendations that consecrate the primacy and sacredness of life over all other considerations.”

“We join through prayer, the immense efforts that are being deployed by the public authorities, the Church, the health authorities and people of good will to eradicate this virulent coronavirus pandemic from the face of the earth,” CINPEC leadership says in the June 16 statement.

More in Africa

Last month, Catholic Bishops in Senegal canceled the annual national Marian pilgrimage amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Instead of the major assembly of pilgrims in Poponguine, a small village on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in Senegal, the Bishops recommended that “the celebration of the 133rd edition of the Pilgrimage be lived at the level of the Parish communities of our Dioceses, with the celebration of Marian Masses, preceded by the recitation of the Rosary.”

Senegal has recorded 42,118 cases of the coronavirus including 40,667 recoveries and 1,156 related deaths.

Last year, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic Church leaders cancelled the annual national pilgrimage to Poponguine.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.