Felix Ikem, Nsukka
The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese, Most Rev. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah has told every Christian and all men of goodwill within this period of Covid-19 pandemic that to stay safe does not in any way suggest that they should stay away from their loved ones.
Bishop Onah made the call on Friday in Nsukka through a release by the Director, Social Communication Commission of the diocese Rev. Fr. Eze Matthew.
According to him, “maybe World Health Organisation (WHO) meant physical distance when it advised ‘social distance.’ For we remain socially and spiritually connected to our loved ones and to the entire humanity even while maintaining physical distance.
“The closeness and communion made possible by love and faith cannot be broken by any physical distance, not even by death. This communion should sustain our spiritual, pastoral and social services to our people in this period of physical distance.”
The bishop called on the pastors of souls to bear in mind that irrespective of the numerous painful problems posed by the present global health challenges, they should not in any way abandon the flock entrusted to their care stressing that it is only hirelings that do so.
“I feel an urge to encourage and strengthen your resolve to continue to be available and close to your brothers and sisters, even in these times when doing so could expose us to the risk of contracting the dreaded disease,” he urged.
He stressed further that “that does not mean that pastors of souls should not take the appropriate measures issued by the WHO so as not to be over-exposed to the virus, instead to bear in mind that over-preservation leads to atrophy and decay, while over exposure makes one excessively vulnerable hence, “virtue lies in the middle.”
The prelate urge every pastor to get up and rise to the challenges of the present moment saying “like the biblical Elijah, we have to prepare for the days, weeks, (who knows?), months ahead. The assignment awaiting us is enormous. Our people are looking up to us expectantly. They have been failed repeatedly by different categories of leaders. We cannot afford to fail them. They have always shown us unalloyed love. This is the time for us to show them how much we love them, especially the weaker and more vulnerable among them.
“Here we should not be thinking only of those who are materially poor or physically weak, but also of those who, because of their ignorance, are often victims of manipulators without conscience, whose stock in trade is scaremongering through false information.”
Concerning stay-at-home within this period of Easter Triduum, he encouraged every Christian faithful not to relent in prayer since prayer is the strongest weapon we all have in this trying moment and invited all to participate in their various homes.