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Bishops in Togo Fault Government Directive on Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccine Certificate

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET)/ Credit: Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET)

Catholic Bishops in the West African nation of Togo have faulted the move by the government requiring that anyone accessing places of worship shows his or her COVID-19 vaccine certificate.

On November 20, the government announced that beginning December 10, a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test dating back 3 days will be required to access places of worship.

In a communiqué issued Monday, December 6, members of the Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET) say, “For the past three (3) weeks, you have been following and praying for the evolution of the steps taken by the Episcopal Conference of Togo (CET), following the communiqué of the Minister of State, Minister of Territorial Administration, making access to places of worship conditional on the presentation of a vaccination card or a negative PCR test dating back 3 days.”

“We have, on several occasions, clearly expressed our disagreement with this decision of the Government,” CET members say in the communiqué shared with ACI Africa.

They add, “In his communiqué of 2 December 2021, the Minister of State maintained his stance and announced the dispatch of control agents to places of worship from 10 December 2021.”

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Last month, Togo’s Constitutional court approved mandatory presentation of a COVID-19 vaccination certificate to access every administrative building in Togo.

In September, CET members described the government’s decision to impose a vaccination pass to access certain public buildings as “coercive measures.”

“Aren't the coercive measures taken by the authorities, such as the ban on access to public and administrative buildings without the vaccination card, the requirement to present proof of vaccination for the submission of files for the establishment of an identity card and for the legalization of documents, etc., serious violations of the basic rights of citizens?” the Bishops posed in their September 25 collective statement.

With a population of just under 8 million, Togo has recorded at least 26,304 cases of COVID-19 including 243 related deaths and 25,923 recoveries.

In the December 6 communiqué signed by CET President Bishop Benoît Alowonou, the Catholic Church leaders invite the people of God under their pastoral care to adhere to the measure imposed by the government.

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They invite people “not to enter into a logic of confrontation, to abstain from any action likely to provoke disturbances or violence for which the responsibility would be wrongly attributed to the Church.”

“We invite the faithful who have been prevented from entering the chapels and churches to follow the celebrations outside in a calm and fervent manner,” they add.

As a way forward, CET members call for prayer and fasting beginning Tuesday, December 7.

“We invite you to observe three (3) days of prayer on Tuesday 7, Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9, and one (1) day of fasting on Friday, 10 December 2021, for the conversion of the hearts and the manifestation of the glory of God,” Catholic Bishops in Togo say in their statement.

They add, “These days of appeal to the Lord for help, will include the celebration of Masses, the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Thursday, the Way of the Cross on Friday and the prayer of the Rosary for these intentions.”

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“We wish everyone a great walk towards Christmas, to meet the Savior, Emmanuel-God-with-us, in serenity, trust and hope.,” the Catholic Church leaders say.