Catholic Church leaders in the West African nation of Benin have, following their two-day meeting this week, expressed gratitude to God for the current status of COVID-19 infections in their country, praying that an effective cure is found to save lives across the globe.
The members of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB) who concluded their two-day meeting Thursday, June 11 thanked God for preserving “our country from a deadly explosion of the disease.”
In a collective statement issued at the end of their third ordinary plenary session for the pastoral year 2019-2020, the Bishops invite “all believers in general and the Catholic faithful, in particular, to continue to pray to God urgently to help humanity overcome this scourge as soon as possible by finding effective remedies.”
In the West African nation, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of four people. From the 305 confirmed cases of the virus, 188 have recovered.
“We encourage the search for endogenous remedies to treat the disease,” the Bishops say in their message signed by CEB President, Bishop Victor Agbanou and added, “We must not deprive ourselves of the contribution of the genius of our people in the search for solutions to a worldwide scourge.”
In a bid to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the country, the Beninese government issued a raft of measures in March including a ban on large gatherings, compulsory wearing of face masks in public places, limiting the number of passengers aboard public transport, among others.
On June 2, the government authorized the re-opening of churches amid strict measures such as the wearing of face masks, keeping social distance of at least one metre and the washing of hands.
With the easing of the COVID-19 restriction and the gradual return to normal life, the Catholic leaders in the country have urged the Beninese people to “continue to observe barrier gestures (washing hands, wearing masks and respecting a social distance of at least one meter) in all places and at all times.”
“Any slackening could lead to a rise in the number of cases of contamination by the disease still present in our country,” the Bishops caution in their June 11 statement.
They express their appreciation for “the pastoral innovations deployed by priests to support and accompany the faithful during the period of suspension of public celebrations: masses, teachings and prayers via the means of social communication. ”
Turning to the laity, the Bishops congratulate the faithful “for the rediscovery of the importance of the domestic church and for the sense of the Church which led them to support their pastors materially, morally and spiritually.”
They add in reference to the laity’s commitment to supporting their pastors, “This is an important indication of fraternal communion in the Church Family of God, which should lead to an awakening to reflection for the self-support of our diocesan churches.”