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Prayers without keeping safe is just donating lives to coronavirus – Archbishop


A Catholic Archbishop has enjoined Christians and other religious organisations to keep safety protocols as countries in Africa begin to reopen churches after months of closure due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Archbishop of Juba in South Sudan, Stephen Ameyu Martin, during mass on Sunday, likened prayers without safety precautions to “just donating lives to the pandemic.”

He said Catholic churches in Sudan may close again if Covid-19 cases increase.

“If the pandemic increases again we may close our churches because our intention of coming to pray is that God gives us longer life.

“But if we pray and we are infected more – that is not keeping life, that is just donating life to pandemic. As Catholics we must take care of life,” he was quoted as telling worshippers by BBC.

Like Nigeria, Catholic churches in South Sudan recently opened for service after months of closure. Nigeria’s commercial nerve city, Lagos, announced the full reopening of churches last week.

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Already, the reopening has generated divergent views from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) chapters in the state.

While CAN said it is the right thing to do, the NMA described the decision to fully open worship centres in the state as hasty.

The Chairman of CAN, Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, attributed the minimal effects of the virus in the state to prayers, noting that a minimum of 30 million Nigerians were expected to die from the COVID-19 pandemic, but God prevented it.

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Bamgbola said,

“By the end of February and early March when this thing started, I had access to privileged information from America that a minimum of 40 million Africans would die from this virus and 30 million of them will be Nigerians. But we serve a living God.

“Those who say Nigeria is the most corrupt nation always conclude that ‘one thing they do is to pray’. They have seen that we serve a living God. We thank the governor for listening to us. He has done well after looking at all the variables.”

But the Chairman, Lagos NMA Committee on COVID-19 Response, Dr Japhet Olugbodi, said the state should have waited a while before the full reopening of churches.

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He said,

“I think we should have tarried a little bit and see what comes out of the reopening of the airports. The strain of COVID-19 in Nigeria is different from the one in some countries, and since we’ve opened the airport, we may have people bringing in another strain of the virus that is different and deadlier than the one in the country.

“We should have seen how that goes first before reopening the economy fully. I understand that people are hard-pressed, but there is a popular saying that goes thus, ‘safety first.’ I think we could have tarried a bit till about another month after reopening of the airports before the full reopening of the economy.”