Religious leaders urge govt to open churches

Monday June 1 2020

Church of Uganda Archbishop Stephen Samuel

Church of Uganda Archbishop Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu giving his Easter message recently. PHOTO/RACHEL MABALA 

By Sam Caleb Opio

Catholic and Anglican leaders have joined their Muslim counterparts in appealing to government to open places of worship, saying the latter can act as places of comfort to the people as the country eases the lockdown.

Mufti Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje, while celebrating Idd-ul-Fitr on May 24, called for opening of places of worship, saying the world needs prayers to heal during this difficult time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yesterday, Kampala Catholic Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga also emphasised that places of worship are the only places where people can run to seek God’s guidance, protection and intervention because of the current challenges facing the world.

“We ask that to be allowed to resume our services and we shall follow the guidelines that the government will give us,” Archbishop Lwanga said after presiding over the Pentecost mass at Lubaga Cathedral in Kampala.

His Anglican counterpart, Archbishop Samuel Kaziimba said as church leaders, they are organised and ready to abide by the standard operating procedures set up by the Ministry of Health and President Museveni to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“We, the religious institutions, have more organised places of worship than even markets and we are humble, disciplined and compliant with all necessary measures, including sanitisers, handwashing facilities and are allies in the pandemic campaign,” Archbishop Kaziimba said.

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He instead said government tougher restrictions can be imposed on truck drivers whom he said have continued to bring the virus into the country.

Archbishop Kaziimba made the request on Saturday while presiding over the scientific wedding of the Principal Personal Assistant to the Speaker of Parliament, Mr David Sibira Kamaali, and his fiancé, Ms Diana Kawoozo, the principal human resource officer at UBTEB, at Namirembe Cathedral.

The Minister for Presidency, Ms Esther Mbayo, who attended the wedding, assured the religious leaders that government was keen on opening up places of worship and would do so gradually.

“On behalf of government, I would like to assure religious leaders that places of worship will be reopened systematically and soon we shall get back to the new normal,” Ms Mbayo assured.

She clarified that government was cautious on fully lifting the lockdown because it is mindful of lives.

“If we hurry to go full blast, we shall have the same experience of other countries who felt the economy was more important than the health of the people and got hit,” she warned.

President Museveni on March 18 imposed restrictions on worship places, schools and social gatherings to prevent the spread of coronavirus, no congregation prayers have since been allowed. This affected celebrations countrywide.

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