KAMPALA – Catholic Bishops of Uganda have warned against the spread of unsubstantiated information or rumours regarding coronavirus.
In a statement signed by Bishop Anthony Zziwa, the chairman of Uganda Episcopal Conference and Bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese, it is necessary for Christians to follow the information from the government.
“Avoid spreading unsubstantiated information or rumours. Always cross-check any information about Coronavirus and other diseases with health experts, Ministry of Health, and the website of World Health Organization (WHO),” the statement issued on Thursday, March 19, 2020, reads in part.
“The Ministry of Health has provided guidance on how to prevent infection and spread of the virus. It has also given the “COVID-19 Guidelines on Safe Mass Gatherings. The President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has reaffirmed the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and issued further orders to strengthen them,” the statement adds.
The Catholic Bishops of Uganda also said Christians do not have to attend Sunday mass in the wake of guidelines released by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The bishops urged the clergy to use the available digital or online platforms to continue preaching the word of God.
“We dispense the faithful from the Sunday obligation to participate in the Holy Mass during this period; however, we encourage all Catholic radio stations to relay and broadcast Holy Mass on Sundays and weekdays. The faithful are advised to tune in at given times which are to be announced by the same radio stations. The faithful are also strongly encouraged to pray at their homes,” the bishops said in a statement signed by Bishop Anthony Zziwa, the chairman of Uganda Episcopal Conference and Bishop of Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese.
The bishops also announced that in case a gathering of not more 10 people attend Mass, Holy Communion should be given in the hands of the faithful and ministers should thoroughly wash hands with sanitizers before and after distribution of Holy Communion.
Since public gatherings are banned, Bishop Zziwa urged clergy, religious, catechists, and laity to refrain from conducting the Stations of the Cross, crusades, workshops and retreats of more than 10 people.
“Furthermore, they are instructed to limit funeral rites to close relatives, administration of the sacrament of Matrimony, for those who cannot wait, to no more than 10 people, with celebrations postponed to a later date (after expiry of the 32 – day moratorium). Such gatherings encourage close contact which may facilitate infections from one person to another,” he said.
Bishops also urged the clergy to make the directives from the President and the guidelines from the Ministry of Health widely available to the faithful. This can be done during homilies, distributing printed copies of the Guidelines, and using local Catholic radios and any other media.
Where possible, churches have been urged to provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers or handwashing facilities with soap at the entrance of the Church for all in-coming members of the church to wash before entering the church and at exit.
“The recommended sanitizer should have above 60% alcohol, although higher concentration of up to 80% is preferred. Ensure that all Holy Water fonts at the entrance of some churches remain empty,” the statement adds.