The number of COVID-19 infections in several provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen a considerable spike within the past weeks.
To this end, the Catholic diocese of Butembo-Beni in Northern Kivu has decided to suspend the administration of the Lord’s Supper (communion).
The church has also decided to restrict the number of Christians at each church service to 20.
Making the announcement in a pastoral communiqué addressed to priests, the ordained, pastoral agents and laity, Saturday August 29, 2020, the Bishop of the diocese, Monsignor Paluku Sikuli Melchisedech, said this measure would be effective from September 1 and would last for one month.
“Faced with this danger which is real, and even very real, while we all adhere to the dynamic of deconfinement decreed by the government authorities, it is urgent to realign and adjust our pastoral practices.
“This goes within our faith in the God of life and our sense of responsibility and discernment.
“This is why, in appropriating the sanitary measures of the Catholic Church in DR Congo on the resumption of public celebrations, it has been decided to provisionally restrain the public celebration of the liturgy for a period of one month from September 1 to September 30, 2020.
“Practically, this means returning to what we were practicing before 16 August, 2020 in our diocese, that is to say, the reduction in the number of participants to 20 persons”, the communiqué declared.
Bishop Paluku Sikuli Melchisedech has also decided on the suspension of the preparation of various sacraments.
“At the same time, despite what we had already started doing, and what we still hope to do within the context of public celebrations, the catechists who had been initiated with a view to the preparation of diverse sacraments are momentarily suspended in order to observe the evolution of the sanitary situation.
“Saving lives belongs to the exercise of pastoral charity and the practice of the commandment of love, which is the first and the biggest of all the commandments”, explained the Butembo-Beni Bishop.
The Bishop subsequently called on all the faithful to respect the barrier measures against COVID-19 especially the washing of hands, the wearing of face masks and physical distancing.
The new measures taken by the Catholic Church in Butembo-Beni come on the heels of those taken by the Adventist Church to suspend all church services in the Greater North of DR Congo namely in Beni, Butembo and Lubero.
Meanwhile, the current COVID-19 situation in the DR Congo stands at 10,045 confirmed infections, 9,103 successfully treated cases and 258 deaths.