|Woman in South Africa receives AstraZeneca vaccines. Source: Catholic News|
Churches in sub-Saharan Africa are taking the Vatican’s call seriously to get involved in partnering to vaccinate their parishioners and make it a top priority.
According to Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Umtata, South Africa this is “a matter of life and death.”
As of October 15, 2021, the continent of Africa has recorded more than 8.3 million COVID-19 cases, while simultaneously having the least access to vaccinations.
Catholic Relief Services across multiple African dioceses have expressed outrage at low rates of vaccine available. Several agencies issued a joint statement saying it is “unacceptable that only 15% of the promised vaccine donations from wealthier nations have materialized in low-income countries.”
Bishop Sipuka in a pastoral address encouraging parishes in his diocese said, “A big advantage of COVID-19 vaccination is that it is simple [for parishes] to do…You just need to have one or two jabs in the arm and you are safe. And you can have this as long as you are not ill.”
Additionally, he noted with government-mandated lockdowns, which prevented people from attending Mass and other church activities, the church’s “ability to make a meaningful contribution was curtailed,” he said. However, by participating in vaccination clinics the church is not only showcasing the love of Christ but actively working to save lives in dangerous times.
Plus as a trusted voice in the community, active engagement from local priests who serve as trusted voices may be able to help members who are reluctant to become vaccinated.
“We must support each other in embracing life by vaccinating,” Bishop Sipuka said.
As the global supply of vaccines increases, Catholic Charities said they stand prepared and ready to assist parishioners in organizing vaccination sites.
Source: Catholic News