As the number of coronavirus infections continues to climb across the African continent, Church leaders are doing their best to encourage the faithful to stay safe and to seek God in this time of trial.
By Vatican News
The Catholic Bishops of Zambia have reached out to their flock inviting them to have faith as “God, in His mercy has intervened before in such occasions as these” and will intervene again.
They also warned the faithful not to put God to the test and invited them to respect all precautionary measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Bishops’ appeal comes as the latest figures show that Covid-19 cases in Africa have climbed to over 787,500, with almost 17,000 deaths. The Southern African region is by far the worst hit.
Signed by Bishop George Lungu, President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) on Friday, the statement draws attention to the story of Jesus calming the storm, as recounted in the Gospel of Saint Mark (Mk 4: 35-41).
The reading tells of when the boat in which Jesus and His disciples were in was rocked by the storm and in danger of sinking. The disciples exclaimed: “Master, don’t you care that we are about to die?”
Bishop Lungu recalled that Jesus “commanded the storm to stop and calmed the anxiety of the disciples,” but he warned the people not to put the Lord to the test by asking Him to stop the Covid-19 pandemic if they do not respect anti-Covid regulations.
He said the time has come for the people of Zambia “to come together and renew the fight against this common enemy, which is the Coronavirus epidemic.”
It is a fight, he explained, to be carried out by “seriously adhering to the measures put in place” by the authorities to prevent the further spread of the virus, including a ban on travelling unless it is absolutely necessary.
Appeal to government
The Catholic Bishops also called on government and other relevant institutions “to prioritize the timely provision of all necessary supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), to health facilities across the nation to guarantee the safety of all frontline workers in their fight against Coronavirus and its devastating effects.”
Finally, noting that just as the Catholic Church in Zambia has suspended pastoral engagements in the dioceses, Bishop Lungu said the Conference calls on all to suspend activities that have the potential to fuel the spread of the disease.
Covid-19 Response Fund
In April, the ZCCB set up a Covid-19 Response Fund dedicated to the prevention of the spread of the new coronavirus in Zambia and to support health facilities responding to the pandemic, with special regard for the elderly, for people with mental and physical disabilities, for orphans and the poor in general.