The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev Alfred Adewale Martins, has expressed displeasure at the continued closure of worship centres, particularly churches.
The federal government had imposed ban on worship centres’ operation amid the coronavirus pandemic but on Monday lifted the order directing state governments to follow their hearts on the issue, to which Lagos retained the ban citing inability of religious leaders to guarantee worshippers’ adherence to protocols to mitigate the virus spread.
“Even before the pronouncement by Federal Government, we have been having meetings with the religious leaders, we even had one with Safety Commission, looking at the possibility of reopening of religious houses.
”We also had one with the leaders of the two faiths and I want to tell you categorically that at that meeting, the possibility of reopening religious houses was ruled out totally.
”They claimed that they cannot take such responsibility of ensuring that only 20 or 50 people are praying behind them,” the State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, said on Tuesday.
Martins attacked the stance of Lagos government saying it was out of order for the church to remain under lock and key while banks, markets and others were allowed to operate.
According to him: “If Christians were willing to suspend their right to gather in Church buildings for the sake of common good at a time when all gatherings of people were suspended, it is unfair and unjust for government to restrict gatherings for worship when other gatherings are being allowed. Anyone who argues that gathering to worship is not essential as it is to eat and get money from the bank, obviously does not understand the spiritual, emotional, and psychological soothing that Christians get from gathering together to worship.
“In any case, are we saying that it is more dangerous for people to gather to worship than it is to gather for banking and trading or that it is gathering for worship that is responsible for the spread of thevirus?”
Continued: “The monitoring is even more easily done in churches than in markets and motor parks or other places where the virus can even be more easily spread. This “volte face”of government gives the impression that the position of Christians is considered secondary and of no consequence in the affairs of the state.”