The Catholic Church in Malawi has expressed disappointment over the government’s decision to implement Coronavirus prevention regulations, including a ban on public gatherings, without consulting the church.
Bishops of the church under the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), issued a statement on Sunday protesting the manner in which the measures have been put into effect.
“They have taken us by surprise. We were neither informed nor consulted despite the fact that we have been in the forefront lobbying for Covid-19 compliant behavior.
“In wider society, the previous guidelines were largely ignored but in churches we applied them diligently and we were teaching all Christians the importance of complying,” the Bishops said.
The Bishops have, however, instructed their churches to follow the guidelines and suspend all public gatherings until further notice.
“In the meantime we shall engage the government to see our true role in the preventing the further spread of Covid-19,” the Bishops said.
On Sunday, Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said the ministry will engage the faith leaders to reach a consensus regarding the methods of applying the rules to religious gatherings in a way that protects religious freedom without compromising public safety.
“Additionally, the consultations with members of the faith community will guide the ministry’s efforts to have compliance mechanisms that cause minimum disruptions to the sustainability of the core activities of religious groups,” said Chiponda in a statement.
She hailed the religious for urging their members to comply with the gazetted rules until there is further guidance from government.
Malawi has recorded 4658 Coronavirus cases, including 146 deaths and 2375 recoveries.