Catholic Churches in Zimbabwe have agreed to live stream Mass celebrations in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. This has been announced after the government has declared the outbreak a national disaster.
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) responded to the pandemic. The outbreak comes at a crucial time of the year in which the church celebrates Easter season. This starts with Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Days often attended in large numbers by Christians globally.
The Catholic Church in Zimbabwe has over 1.4 million members in Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare, Chinhoyi, Gweru, Gokwe and Hwange Dioceses across the country. It is the largest and most followed Christian denomination in Zimbabwe. The reaction is a justified one considering how hard the Catholic Church has been affected by The Coronavirus outbreak after a massive death toll in Italy.
“The Bishops are only providing a special dispensation at this time in response to the pandemic.
“We are still working on a revised program for Easter, in line with the declaration of the President and most Dioceses are still consulting,” he said.
Asked on the marginalized members who cannot have access to live streaming of Mass, Fr Chiromba said:
“The catholic church has very active Small Christian Communities (SCC) in rural areas.
“They too have mechanisms for bible sharing and worship, which they can fully utilize at this time, without being dependent on technology.”
In a statement published by the ZCBS, the bishops cited that members should not feel guilty for failure to attend Sunday Mass as obliged following the pandemic declared a state of national disaster.
“The Sunday obligation to attend Mass for the elderly, children, the sick and the vulnerable has been lifted until further notice.
“Where possible, the vulnerable faithful are encouraged to follow the live streaming of Mass through various media of social communications.
“The current situation offers us an opportunity for us to renew our appreciation of prayer at home and in private.
“All blessing by the placing of hands must be suspended.
“Sign of peace during the Holy Mass has been suspended.
“Reception the holy communion must only be on the hand, not on the mouth.
“All faithful are encouraged to wash their hands with soap or use hand sanitizers as frequently as possible,” said the Bishops.
“The fact that a live stream is actually live brings a human element to it and it creates a relationship with viewers.
“There is genuine interaction that live streaming allows, supporting the statement that ‘the church is universal
“Catholics should still remember to keep the Sabbath holy even though there may be no chance to physically attend Mass.
“This uncertain time of suspended Masses and decreased physical access to the sacraments will help Catholics enter into deeper solidarity with those around the world who still lack access to regular Masses, either because of the remoteness of where they live or due to a shortage of priests.
“They must set aside time on Sunday or Saturday evening to go through the readings for the day and pray together as a family, or if they don’t have others living with them, to pray on their own,” explained Fr Mashayamombe.
“In the wake of the global outbreak of Covid-19, we wish to add our voices to the many other voices, including WHO, our own government and, in particular, the president and Ministry of Health, on the pandemic.