By Ovie Okpare
The Catholic Diocese of Warri in Delta State has directed catholic faithful to continue to worship with their families from home or follow online daily streaming of masses over the rising cases of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
It said despite the partial reopening of churches by the Delta State Government, catholic parishes in the diocese, would remain shut to public masses until further notice.
The state government had recently ordered the reopening of places of worship across the state after the one month lockdown declared by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
Delta has recorded 17 confirmed cases of the virus with most of the cases recorded are in Warri South, Uvwie, Udu and Ughelli South Local Government Areas which are under the Warri Catholic Diocese.
According to a circular obtained by NIGER DELTA TODAY Online on Saturday “No mass with congregation till further notice.”
A copy of the circular signed by the Diocesan Chancellor/Secretary, Very Rev. Fr. Clement Abob, said the directive was from the Bishop of the Warri Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. John Oke’Oghene Afareha on Friday.
Fr. Abobo urged catholic faithful to continue to adhere to all guidelines and as well as pray for God intervention in ending the pandemic.
The circular said, “Yesterday (Thursday 30th April 2020) the state government granted permission for the partial re-opening of places of worship with some conditions that are close to impossible to meet without compromising the very reason for which the lockdown was put in place.
“Also, the prevailing circumstances as indicated by the figures show a constant rise in the number of persons being infected by the virus.
“Consequently, the bishop has directed that we continue to adhere strictly to the status quo as earlier announced : no mass with congregation till further notice.
“Pleases continue to pray for God’s intervention in your private prayers and masses.”
When, however contacted for clarification on Saturday, Diocesan Director, Directorate of Social Communications, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Benedict Ukutegbe, confirmed the authenticity of the circular.
He said masses will only be reopened when COVID-19 pandemic have drastically reduce for the safety of faithful.