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As Coronavirus Scare Continues: Church Enters the Fight

In a move meant to compliment the government's efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, Tanzania Episcopal Council (TEC) has provided a special guideline to its worshipers, which includes skipping the traditional kissing of the Holly Cross during this year’s Good Friday service.

The Council also said that worshippers will be required to receive the Holy Eucharist with their hands only, and where a Mass involves more than one Priest, they will be required to dip it in the Grail instead of the traditional procedure of drinking from it.

These new instructions were announced by TEC President, His Eminence Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga, during a special Mass to consecrate the new Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Moshi, His Eminence Ludovick Minde held at Christ the King Cathedral grounds here on Thursday.

"Through this guideline, the Church enters the fight ...PM acts tough on fake news "cooks" Council has announced two days of special prayers to beseech God to protect our country from the ravages of COVID-19, and those who have been infected to get quick recovery, and at the same time grant specialists the ability to find the right prevention and cure of the pandemic," he said.

He further stated that the new guidelines intend to provide education to worshipers so that they can comply with procedures meant to prevent the spread of the disease as directed by the Government.

Bishop Nyaisonga added that the directive also stipulates that during this year's Good Friday service, believers will not be allowed to kiss the Holy Cross during the traditional Good Friday session, and instead they will only bow down in respect to the Holy Cross.

He also called on all priests and other church leaders to adhere to the provided guidelines and instructions while at the same time make sure that worshipers adhere to them to avoid the disease.

On his part, the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Arusha, His Eminence Isaac Amani urged all Catholic faithful and Tanzanians at large not to make fun of the deadly disease, especially through social media.

"There are those who publish on social networks that the Coronavirus cannot infect a black person, and that Africans are safe from it. That is not true, the reality is that the viruses affect human beings, and Africans are human beings, therefore we as Africans are also in danger. This disease is not a comedy, the reports you see and hear in the media are real, people are dying, and there are many patients receiving treatment worldwide, including in Africa, let us follow and comply with the procedures which are provided to help us from contracting the disease," the cleric said.

His Eminence Archbishop of Arusha Catholic Diocese, Rt. Rev Isaac Amani, who is the immediate predecessor of Bishop Minde and who headed the Catholic Diocese of Moshi for 10 years before he was transferred to the Catholic Archdiocese of Arusha, urged the Catholic Diocese of Moshi faithful to give Bishop Minde their full cooperation in his new mission in the Diocese.

Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Ms. Anna Mghwira, who represented President John Magufuli during the ceremony, congratulated TEC on its willingness to join the government in the fight against Coronavirus in the country.

"We believe, just like all other calamities which came and went this too will pass, but as long as it is here, we should keep praying to the Almighty God to save us from this pandemic. I would like to congratulate you, Bishop Minde, who is taking over the leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Moshi in the face of the Coronavirus crisis, and urge you to join the regional government in tackling it," she said.

In his message, Bishop Minde thanked God for allowing the ceremony to take place despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19, a disease caused by coronavirus.

"I thought these celebrations will be postponed due to the current crisis, but I thank the government for giving us the permission to continue with this event, after it was satisfied with the procedures and precautions taken," he said.

During the Consecration Mass, several procedures had to be skipped or completely left out, including taking a slight bow to the new Bishop instead of shaking hands.

The tradition of shaking hands as a sign of peace among the congregation was also skipped, including the traditional Blessing of the Priests in attendance where the new Bishop was supposed to lay his hands on their heads, and instead they came before him and bowed as a sign of respect to him while the Bishop blessed them by bowing.

Currently, there are 287,397 Coronavirus cases reported worldwide, with 11, 897 deaths and 93, 617 recovered cases.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania Tel Aviv, Israel.