Church in Burkina Faso Set to Resume Pilgrimages Abroad amid Revised COVID-19 Protocol

Archbishop Paul Yemboaro Ouédraogo (Center) addressing journalists Thursday, April 2 in Burkina Faso. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The leadership of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Pilgrimages and Eucharistic Congresses (CEPCE) in Burkina Faso has announced the resumption of international pilgrimages after the West African nation revised COVID-19 protocol.

Addressing journalists Thursday, April 21, CEPCE President, Archbishop Paul Yemboaro Ouédraogo, highlighted the importance of pilgrimages and conditions pilgrims need to fulfill to participate in the spiritual exercise.

“The purpose of this press conference is to officially announce the resumption of Catholic pilgrimages outside Burkina Faso,” Archbishop Ouédraogo said.

The Local Ordinary of Bobo-Dioulasso Archdiocese said that “since the end of 2019, the world was plunged into a pandemic that brought it to its knees, hence the suspension of some religious activities.”

“Today, the world is beginning to adapt and learn to live with the disease,” he told journalists.


The 73-year-old Archbishop further said, “Now the stranglehold is loosening, countries are learning to live with COVID-19 with certain precautions, the shrines are open again.”

“We also wanted to resume the organization of Catholic pilgrimages. It was an opportunity to announce it, to present at the same time some provisions that we are making to better organize these Catholic pilgrimages and also to avoid some abuses that have been noted,” the Catholic Archbishop who has been at the helm of Bobo-Dioulasso since November 2010 told journalists.

He underscored the need for collaboration between the Church and her partners in organizing the pilgrimages. 

The Burkinabe Archbishop added, “It was not always obvious, but today an approach allows the commission not only to promote the Catholic pilgrimage, to organize it, but also to accompany the promoters and the agencies that want to organize Catholic pilgrimages by specifying some conditions.”

To organize a Catholic pilgrimage, he said, “private promoters must be Catholic and obtain annual approval and authorization for each pilgrimage.”

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He continued, “Spiritual accompaniment of the pilgrims is important and that is why we ask promoters to always accept a Priest in their group of pilgrims because a pilgrimage that is not accompanied spiritually necessarily loses its value. It's not tourism, it's not anything else, it's first of all an act of faith,”

“Pilgrimage is prayer and I hope that the promoters take this aspect into account,” Archbishop Ouédraogo said, and added, “Pilgrimage is carried out through the visit of a place of sanctuary linked to the celebration of a mystery of the Catholic faith; or by stopping at a place linked to passages of the Holy Scriptures.”

He also outlined destinations, periods, number of places, cost and registration deadlines for international pilgrimages in Burkina Faso.

On his part, the Coordinator of pilgrimages abroad, Thomas Baguemzanré, said, “The commission has approved and authorized five promoters to accompany the Church in the organization of these pilgrimages.”

“To register for a Catholic pilgrimage, the pilgrim must ensure that the pilgrimage is either on the list of pilgrimages organized by the Pilgrimage Commission or on the list of pilgrimages authorized by the commission,” Mr. Baguemzanré said.


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.