COVID-19: Catholic Bishops suspend 30-month ban on handshakes during mass

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has directed the resumption of handshakes, popularly known as ‘Kiss of Peace’, during the celebration of mass after suspending the Eucharistic practice 30 months ago.

It also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ensure the technology was transparently deployed to increase the confidence of the people in the electoral process

The suspension followed the World Health Organization’s declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic as a global health emergency in the year 2020.

The decision to lift the suspension was taken during proceedings of the just-concluded second plenary of the CBCN, which was held in Orlu, Imo State.

The directive, contained in a memo entitled, ‘Kiss of Peace’, dated September 17, 2022, and signed by Rev. Fr. Cosmas Uzoigwe, the Personal Assistant to the President of the CBCN, His Grace, Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji, in Abuja yesterday, read: “Greetings to you all, His Grace, Most Rev. Lucius lwejuru Ugorji has directed that the traditional shaking of hands (Kiss of Peace) during Eucharistic celebration and other events in the liturgical celebrations of the church should resume and come back to life.

“The resolution to commence the liturgical gesture of shaking of hands came, following the proceedings of the recently concluded second plenary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria held at Orlu.”

Task INEC on technology deployment for 2023 polls

The CBCN also called on INEC to ensure the technology was transparently deployed to increase the confidence of the people in the electoral process.

It expressed the optimism that the new innovation if properly used, would increase the credibility of the 2023 polls.

The Bishops said flawless and credible elections would be a good remedial step to combating some of the challenges shaking the nation to its foundation and an answer to the yearnings of Nigerians for credible and reliable leaderships at all levels to redirect the nation to the path of greatness

The CBCN stated this in a communiqué at the end of its Second Plenary Meeting of the Sacred Heart Pastoral/Retreat Centre, Orlu, Imo State on September 16, 2022, signed by its President, Most Rev Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji , and Secretary, Most Rev. Donatus Aihmiosion O犀利士 gun.

The communique, made available to journalists in Ado Ekiti by the Catholic Bishop of Ekiti, Most Rev Felix Ajakaye, yesterday, applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for assenting to the New Electoral Bill.

The clerics added that it would be a great disservice to the citizens for these technological initiatives to be deployed to thwart the 2023 elections after rigorous amendment by the National Assembly and inputs from Nigerians.

They said: “Elections are fast approaching. We commend the National Assembly and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for enacting and signing into law the Electoral Bill 2022.

“We acknowledge the president’s commitment to ensuring a level playing ground for all candidates in the elections. Furthermore, we commend INECfor its innovations, especially in the area of technology, to ensure free, fair and credible elections.

“We, however, enjoin the commission to ensure that this technology is transparently deployed, in order to increase the confidence of the people in the electoral process. Politics is a noble vocation.”


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