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Catholic Church delays reopening

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Liberian Catholic Archbishop Most Rev. Lewis Zeigler has asked all Parish Priests and Priests in charge of parishes in the Archdiocese of Monrovia to delay the opening of their churches for regular church activities till the end of May 2020, in the wake of daily increase of coronavirus cases here.

“This will enable us to monitor the reduction in the cases of the Coronavirus pandemic in the Archdiocese. By early June we shall observe and decide how to go forward with the resumption of our church activities. Many thanks for your understanding and cooperation,” a memorandum under his signature dated 13 May, says.

Archbishop Zeigler says while being respectful to the decision of the Government of Liberia, he does not believe that this is the right time to have Catholic Churches opened for regular public worship, when the confirmed cases of the coronavirus are on a daily rise in the country.

His decision to delay resumption of church activities came about five days after President George Manneh Weah on Friday, 8 May proposed that Churches, Mosques and worship centers consider operating 25 percent of the regular worship-hour occupancy for each service beginning Sunday, 17 May, with Muslims permitted to begin operating in their Mosques on 8 May.

While Mr. Weah permits Churches, Mosques and worship centers to reopen, coronavirus cases are still increasing daily, with 215 total cases recorded by the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) as of 13 May, out of which 20 victims have died and 105 others have recovered, leaving 90 confirmed active cases.

Liberia is in the third phase of 14 days lockdowns imposed by the administration to ease the spread of the virus as extensions of the lockdown measure became necessary here due to continuous reports of new cases of the virus.

At the start of the crisis when coronavirus cases were far less than the current figure, Churches were abruptly closed by security forces while worshipers were in service due to authorities’ apparent conflicting decision following a meeting with religious leaders ahead of the Sunday leading to the incident.

The reopening of Churches, Mosques and worship centers followed calls from religious leaders amid complaints by others here that the Church and Mosque have been treated unfairly in the crisis, as they have not been allowed to congregate and pray against the disease.He however expresses thanks and appreciation to the Government of Liberia for the decision taken to declare Churches, Mosques and worship centers reopened as of 17 May.
By Winston W. Parley

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