CONGO: Sacraments Suspended in Parishes at Risk of Ebola

KINSHASA, 8 JUNE 2018, (CISA) – The Catholic Church in Congo has insisted that emergency measures will remain in place indefinitely in parishes at risk of Ebola.

“Although Masses are continuing, sacraments such as baptism and confirmation have had to be suspended,” said Msgr. Jean-Marie Bomengola, secretary of the church’s social Communications Commission.

He was speaking in an interview June 7 with Catholic News Service.

“Since we can’t foresee how the disease will develop, we can’t set out any timescale. But the crisis needs real containment measures, and we’re counting on the government to provide them,” he added.

Jean-Marie confirmed at least 1,000 people had been vaccinated and that measures were in place to prevent any personal contact among Catholics.

The Catholic Church provides a key framework for communication and cooperation, it is the center of events mobilizing preventing initiatives and providing transport and medical care. However, Jean-Marie said, “all the precautions are being taken to ensure people don’t come too close. It’s a highly abnormal situation.”

Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Co-adjutor Archbishop of Kinshasa decided to suspend administering sacraments to protect churchgoers from contaminating the disease. He was previously serving in the diocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro, where the outbreak occurred.

He said the ban would extend to anointing the sick, exchanging the sign of peace and other acts involving physical contact, adding that an ordination Mass scheduled for June 3 had been canceled.

Clergy would dispense Holy Communion to hands rather than mouths and would ensure sacred objects were disinfected before and after every mass, the Archbishop added.