UCA News


Pakistan bishops agree to keep churches closed

People from all religious communities are asked to refrain from offering prayers on rooftops

UCA News reporter, Lahore

UCA News reporter, Lahore

Updated: April 09, 2020 10:35 AM GMT
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Pakistan bishops agree to keep churches closed

Christian devotees stand in circles marked on the ground to maintain social distancing as they hold palm branches to celebrate a Palm Sunday service in Islamabad on April 5. (Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP)

Share this article :
Bishops and pastors have met Pakistan’s minority affairs minister in Lahore to discuss measures to stem the transmission of Covid-19.

“We have voluntarily agreed with all our bishops, pastors and moderators that we will not open churches unless we get rid of the plague,” said minister Ejaz Aslam in a video statement after the April 8 meeting. “It is a unanimous decision by all our bishops.”

The minister also requested people to refrain from gathering on rooftops to offer prayers. “The government has banned people from such gatherings. We should stay at homes and pray that we win the battle against this global pandemic,” Aslam added.

His comments came as people from both majority and minority communities were spotted praying on their rooftops in several Pakistani cities in violation of Section 144, which bars the assembly of more than four people.

Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore requested the Catholic community to pray and follow the instructions from the government. “Following the Bible, we have to obey our government and their directives,” he said.

Keeping in mind the importance of prayer services during Holy Week and especially on Good Friday, Lahore police chief Zulfiqar Hameed held a meeting with Christian leaders and appreciated their cooperation in having online prayer services.

The police chief requested minority leaders to avoid all gatherings and the use of loudspeakers on Good Friday and other special days.

“Please consider the sensitivity of the pandemic situation and educate the communities. Social distancing is the only solution to prevent the spread of the global virus,” Hameed said. “We will try to broadcast the main services through state-run Pakistan Television.”

As of April 8, the number of infected people in Pakistan had risen to 4,322 with 63 deaths, according to government data.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM


Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."