Let’s “discern how to be church in the midst of a pandemic”: Catholic Bishop in Eswatini

Bishop José Luis Ponce de León of Eswatini's Manzini Diocese. Credit: Vatican Media

The Catholic Bishop of Manzini, the lone Diocese in Eswatini has, in a report, invited the people of God in the Southern African nation to reflect on how to practice their Christian faith amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is no longer a matter of waiting for the pandemic to be over but to discern how to be Church in the midst of a pandemic,” Bishop José Luis Ponce de León says in a Friday, July 23 report.

Bishop Ponce de León expresses concerns about the impact of the third wave of the coronavirus saying it has resulted in prolonged restrictions.

“As we go through the third wave, with just over 2 percent of the population having been vaccinated, it seems clear that regular waves, partial or total lockdowns and other restrictions will continue to affect us,” the Local Ordinary of Manzini Diocese says.

The member of the Consolata Missionaries goes on to announce a meeting to deliberate on “how to be Church in the midst of a pandemic.”


“On Monday, July 26 we will be holding a Diocesan presbyteral council meeting to reflect both on the present situation of unrest and on the constant impact of COVID19 has in our lives and pastoral work,” Bishop Ponce de León says in the report published by Agenzia Fides July 23.

In the report, the native of Argentina highlights the challenge of political instability in Eswatini and acknowledges the interventions by various entities, including the Council of Swaziland Churches (CSC) where he is a member.

“On Saturday, July 17, the three known Christian Church bodies: the League of African Churches, the ESwatini Conference of Churches and the Council of Swaziland Churches met the South African Development Community (SADC) delegation,” the Catholic Bishop says.

He continues, “The Council of Swaziland Churches presented a nine-page document with an analysis of the current problems of the country, the chronology of events, possible scenarios if the government ignores and does not act on the current problems but also possible ones if matters are addressed.”

“The document presents a detailed list of meetings the CSC has held in the last two weeks with different stakeholders in the country and some short- and long-term recommendations to the government and SADC,” the 60-year-old Bishop further says. 

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