Catholic Leaders: South Africans Be Vigilant
Catholic leaders have called all South Africans to vigilance as the second wave of Covid-19 hits South Africa.
In a joint statement issued today, the Leadership Conference of Consecrated Life (LCCL) in conjunction with the Southern African Catholic Bishops (SACBC) said that the death of nine sisters of the Daughters of St Francis in KwaZulu-Natal recently as a result of Covid-19 “is a very painful reminder that though we are at Alert Level 1, the scourge of Covid-19 is yet to lessen its devastation to communities and society at large”.
The statement signed by LCCL superior-general Sr Nkhensani Shibambu CSA and SACBC president Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha noted that Alert Level 1 alert “is more to create conditions for the functioning of economy so that people can survive than it is an indication of a reduced level of infection”.
The Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary have also had 20 of their members infected with Covid-19 in the last two weeks. Three of the sisters were hospitalised, two have since been discharged. “This is a clear indication that during this so-called ‘second wave’, by most accounts, the virus appears to be more infectious and lethal than in the first wave”, the statement said.
The statement called all South Africans and religious congregations and priests in particular to vigilance. “We urge all religious congregations and communities to be extra vigilant and cautious during this very deadly second wave of the pandemic, as none of us is immune to this pandemic,” the Church leaders said.
“As religious, community life is the essence of our religious life, as most of our life revolves around community and coming together for prayers, meals, professions, ordinations, chapters, Masses, recreations etc. However, these key occasions of our witnessing are guaranteed occasions for the virus to spread and infect others.
We therefore call for a prudent relook at these activities and to put sentiments of ‘we always do it this way and at this time’ aside in order to protect everyone concerned, especially the elderly and those with chronic conditions. It is in our hands to protect each other,” Sr Shibambu and Bishop Sipuka said.
“During these unprecedented times, we need to continue adhering to the safety protocols of Covid-19 prevention and containment as without a vaccine, we are our own best defence against the virus,” they said.
“In light of the above, the LCCL and SACBC leadership jointly make a plea to all major superiors in the conference to suspend all gatherings until the viciousness of this virus significantly diminishes,” they said.
Priests entrusted with the pastoral care of people should continue to adhere “to the safety directives given by their bishops”, the statement said.
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