Sr. Dr. Lucy Hometowu, a member of the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church, educates the parishioners in Ho Dome, a town in the Volta Region of Ghana. She is also the COVID-19 vaccine campaign coordinator of her congregation’s medical team. (Damian Avevor)
Many people believed that the vaccine was unsafe and had severe side effects on human bodies, thus vowing never to take “the jab,” as it is referred to in many African countries.
Religious sisters in the West African nation of over 31 million people have been working hard to debunk COVID-19 vaccine myths that are rampant, ranging from denial that the virus exists to various false side effects. As of Feb. 16, just over 15% of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.
The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have updated and relaxed rules for worship according to new Government guidelines. The following sets out the principles for the new guidance; the link leads to the full document.
The vaccine programme has had a major impact in reducing death and serious illness from infection with Covid-19. The Church in England and Wales supports the vaccination programme and encourages people to be vaccinated. The scientific consensus is that society is moving towards the stage where the virus is transitioning from the pandemic phase to the endemic phase, but as stated by HM Government, there is still a risk associated with gathering for sustained periods in enclosed spaces and therefore there needs to be continued caution by all against infection. This, however, has to be balanced against the need to move forward safely towards a normal lifestyle and these two positions will always be held in tension. This holding in tension is the key to living safely with Covid-19, namely keeping infections from a virus that cannot be eliminated to levels which minimise disruption to people’s lives. This guidance has been written with this principle in mind. Alongside the positive effects of covid vaccination, it should be stressed that any people displaying symptoms of Covid-19 should stay at home and not participate in acts of worship in church.
Women in Abuja, Nigeria, wear face masks May 2, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS/Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)
The road to full vaccination in Africa looks like being long and difficult.This article from the National Catholic Reporter tells how Catholic parishes are encouraging vaccinations; yet even though nowhere near enough doses are available, there is much scepticism about their efficacy.
Olayide Osibogun, a public health physician at the University of Lagos, said: “The purpose of having a vaccine is to provide immunity to as many people as possible and break the chain of transmission. And when people refuse to take the vaccine, they make achieving herd immunity impossible.”
But vaccine hesitancy is still growing on the continent. Some Catholic communities are showing indifference towards taking vaccines. Mabola Thusi, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, South Africa, for example, spoke to NCR about her hesitancy to take a vaccine that was developed in a few years.
We usually post Pope Francis’ prayer intention on the first Friday of the month, but this month it fell on Good Friday, so we postponed it until today.
Pope Francis’s Intention for April: – Fundamental Rights We pray for those who risk their lives while fighting for fundamental rights under dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and even in democracies in crisis.
One of the fundamental rights is to health care. As we have seen with the covid-19 vaccination programme, there are authoritarian regimes, conspiracy theorists and others with influence, who have been prepared to dissuade or prevent people from receiving the vaccine. Saint Dunstan’s church was illuminated last year to publicise the world-wide programme to end polio, a crippling disease which can be prevented with a childhood vaccination programme. This has been resisted by militia men who attack and kill public health workers, alleging that the vaccination brings on other diseases.
Just one group of people prepared to risk their lives for fundamental rights. Let us pray for them and all who work for people’s rights.
If you want to give thanks for receiving your vaccination, or to donate to charities who are helping to ensure that every community is supported, the following suggestions are among ways this can be done:
The Church of England helped to bring about the vaccinaid.org campaign with Unicef and Crowdfunder, which is seeking to help provide more than 2.5 billion vaccines worldwide. Donations can be made directly, or communities can set up local fundraisers to contribute together.
Christian Aid’s Give Thanks campaign is focusing on humanitarian support including food, water and healthcare in areas where the vaccine is not currently available.
In addition, the Church of England has worked with yourneighbour.org on the Give Hope Campaign which works to target misinformation and encourage everyone to take up the offer of a vaccination.
Good morning to you all on a rather cold and frosty morning; and I hope this finds you all well, as we are here. Yesterday I headed over to Ramsgate for my vaccination – what a well organised and slick operation it was- hats off to all those who organised it – arm feeling achy though which is to be expected! It was strange driving to Ramsgate as I realised it was the furthest I have been in the car for about six months!
Today, 8th March 2021 is International Women’s Day, and the Mother’s Union has asked that we pray for women around the world between today and Mothering Sunday (14th March), we remember today that around the world there are women who are marginalised and oppressed or abused for just being female. who don’t have the access to opportunities for education, a safe place to live, clean water, or some days don’t have enough food to feed their children. We give thanks for organisations such as the Mothers Union who support and encourage women both nationally and internationally.
Morning Prayer: https://youtu.be/ATUIE7sODHk God Bless you all and have a good day Jo Rev Jo Richards, Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury
Another chance to feel smug and virtuous: both of us gardeners at St Mildred’s Glebe this morning were using metal flasks for our breaktime drinks, and no worries about water quality or quantity. Polish that halo before the cobwebs take over again!
Chad, as patron, unites Lichfield Anglican Diocese and the Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham. He was the first Bishop of Lichfield in Mercia, the Kingdom of the English Midlands. He died on this day in 672. It is fitting to remember him more widely this year, as he died of a plague, having received a heavenly warning that his death was near.
Bishop Chad’s nature was to go everywhere on foot – again a parallel with our own times – but Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury ordered him to ride on horseback for long journeys. His diocese covered much of England so to visit all of it made a horse a tool of the Good News rather than a symbol of his status as bishop.
We pray that the work of vaccination may go ahead safely and surely in Lichfield Cathedral, and we pray too for the discernment to know when we should walk, not ride a short journey, and so help to protect God’s earth and our home.
This Pastoral Letter was sent out by Bishop Ralph Heskett of Hallam, the Catholic diocese of Sheffield, Yorkshire. He sets out the Catholic Church’s views on vaccination and other precautions regarding the corona virus.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am writing to you with renewed hope in these difficult times. A blessing for many during this lockdown is the opportunity to continue to come together for public worship. Government has recognised that public worship is central to our Catholic life and of benefit to the community at large. I know that some of our parishes, for safety sake, have taken the decision to stream Mass only for the present online.
Whether your parish remains open or closed for the moment we must all, however tiresome, continue to follow the rules and play our part in protecting our neighbours and ourselves in the coming months.
Also, to address letters and emails I have received questioning the ethical and moral nature of the vaccines being offered. I know that many of you will be asking yourselves what you will do when you receive your invitation for vaccination, especially with the misinformation that is circulating, not least on social media.
You may not be aware, but the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a Note on the 21st December 2020, in which it clarifies the absence of moral culpability on the part of those receiving the vaccine when there is no choice which vaccine is received. In fact, it says that there is a responsibility on the part of all to seek the vaccination as it is not just a matter of protecting one’s own health, but also the protection of others health as well.
We all know the effects of misinformation. It seeks only to divide and destroy and to hold people in fear. In the end it is the decision of each individual whether to receive the vaccine or not. However, this decision must be made from a well-informed conscience by listening to the voice of the Church and her teachings and not to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the loud voices we hear in social media.
In the darker days over the last few weeks and months I have returned to the words of the prophet Jeremiah as a source of encouragement and hope and for this reason I share with you. “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare not evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. The Church and her teaching is always for our welfare not evil and offers us hope for the future.
This links to an article by the Dean of Lichfield, Rev Adrian Dorber. Lichfield was the first cathedral to host a mass vaccination centre. Dean Adrian begins:
I was asked to write the following piece for a daily newspaper. Whether it gets printed, or it is mangled into something unrecognisable by sub-editors, is beyond my control, but I thought you might like to see the article. Here it is:
Last week the UK death toll from Covid-19 crossed the 100,000 mark: a grim milestone in our reckoning with the impact of the virus. The swathe of bereavement the virus brings is terrible. The mental and spiritual desolation of 2020 has shown us the fault lines in the way the world is currently ordered: pointing us to the inescapable truth of our relatedness and obligations to each other. One charity dealing with bereavement has predicted a “tsunami of unresolved grief” that will take a long time to heal. Compound the death rate with the anxiety, stress and isolation lockdown and home-schooling have brought, to say nothing of lost jobs, business closures and a contracting economy, then we are right to welcome the NHS’s vaccination roll-out.
The link above will take you to the whole interesting article.