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Coronavirus ‘a heavy cross to bear’, says Ramaphosa, after Zoom service

11 April 2020

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Friday

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Friday

THE Archbishop of Canterbury joined the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, in a Zoom service led by the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, on Good Friday.

Archbishop Makgoba conducted the service at noon in the chapel of his home at Bishopscourt, in Cape Town. About one hundred people joined him and his family via Zoom, including bishops and retired bishops from across the Province of Southern Africa.

President Ramaphosa joined in from the Union Buildings in Pretoria where, on Maundy Thursday evening, he had extended the national lockdown for South Africa by another fortnight until the end of April. He read the first lesson from Lamentations 3.1-9: “I am the man that hath seen affliction.”

Later, he said: “The coronavirus pandemic is a heavy cross being carried on the shoulders of all of humankind. Rich and poor, young and old, black and white, men and women suffer under its weight.

“But the message of Easter is also one of hope, of recovery, of triumph, and of rebirth.”

The current (Saturday) Covid-19 figures for South Africa are 2003 cases and 22 deaths, but officials accept that difficulties with testing and reporting mean that this is just an indication of the hold that the virus has on the region.

Archbishop Makgoba called on South Africans to make even greater sacrifices to save thousands of lives, and not to relax or be complacent, as the solutions will not be immediate. “In South Africa it is not a township disease,” he warned. “Those who live behind high walls are not immune. It will spread fast and far if we allow it to. . .

“As all humanity fights this pandemic, we are aware that no Good Friday lasts forever. In a few days we will hear the angels sing: ‘He is not here, he will meet you in Galilee.’

“After the agony of Good Friday, there always comes the hope of Easter, the hope of new beginnings. We will overcome this challenge.” And he hoped that what would emerge from the pandemic would be “a better South Africa, a better world, a more equitable future and a more just future”.

Archbishop Welby ended the service with a prayer of blessing: “Lord God, in this season of fear and uncertainty as we face the threat of the coronavirus, grant us all wisdom and determination to walk in others’ shoes.”

President Ramaphosa afterwards thanked the Church for the vital role it has played in supporting the national effort to contain the coronavirus. “In the true spirit of Christian fellowship, you have extended a hand to the poor, the sick, and the hungry.

“The pastoral and charity work by our Christian community has been a lifeline for many of our people in their hour of need, and comfort in their time of sorrow. On behalf of all the people of South Africa, I thank you.”

The Anglican Church in the Province has set up provincial, regional, and diocesan Covid-19 teams to share information and experiences, to report sick parishioners, to disseminate Government information, and to organise social care.

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