The Catholic Archdioceses of Abuja, Benin and Auchi dioceses it would obey the federal and state governments order to suspend sunday masses in all its parishes and mass centres in the face of the ravaging corona virus. The virus has affected about 196 countries with Nigeria recording over 50 confirmed cases and one dead as at press time In a separate statement made available to the Herald newspaper and signed by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Abuja, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze of Benin Archdiocese and Bishop Gabriel Dunia of Auchi diocese the prelates directed the priests, religious and the lay faithful to understand the perilous times the nation finds itself and take every necessary precautionary measures desirable to contain the deadly pandemic. The release directed at christians and indeed, the faithful, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama said after due consultations on the federal government directives on Covid-19 virus stay at home order especially for residents of Abuja and Lagos the Church hereby temporarily suspend the common celebration of the Holy mass, Stations of the Cross, Benediction and other Sacraments of the Church which normally attract large crowd. This he said will be reviewed in two weeks time. He therefore advised priests to celebrate live masses and have them streamed live using available social media platforms where possible and encourage parishioners to follow the masses on EWTN, CTV, Lumen Christi, AIT among other channels. He called on priests to educate the faithful that being unable to participate physically at mass is also an opportunity to seek other ways of living our faith and prayer life to the full in families and neighbourhoods. The statement signed on March 25, 2020 also directed priests to send out daily reflections, prayers and homilies to parishioners through text messages, WhatsApp, Twitter and others while families are encouraged to come together and celebrate the word of God. The faithful should also take seriously the advice of social distancing and be familiar with the Covid-19 emergency numbers as provided by the National Centre for Disease Control. In his words Covid-19 is closer than before and that all be alert, prayerful and take personal hygiene more seriously. BENIN ARCHDIOCESE And from the Catholic Archdioceses of Benin, Benin City, Archbishop Augustine Obiora Akubeze enjoined all the faithful to use the period to pray to God for an end to the pandemic, invoking the intercession of Blessed Virgin Mary and pray the prayer composed by Pope Francis for an end to the Corona virus. The statement further said it would comply with the Edo state directives that no more than 20 people should gather at a time and that Catholics should strictly observe the order with the following measures taken to safeguard lives in view of the rising death toll globally. He therefore announced the cancellation of public masses until further notice, suspension of public celebration of the Stations of the Cross, gathering of priests and lay faithful in any church facility, suspension of marriages, burials and funeral mass with people more than 20. The ban also affect Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil which will be celebrated in the Cathedral with the Bishop and his assistants, two lectors and two altar boys in attendance without the washing of feet on Holy Thursday, the statement added. AUCHI DIOCESE The Catholic Diocese of Auchi in a statement signed by Bishop Gabriel Dunia addressed to priests, religious and lay persons in the diocese asked rhetorically, ‘what can we do about the deadly Corona virus?’ Stating that since the outbreak of the virus in 2019 the world has watched with bewilderment how the virus has ravaged humanity causing untold deaths in China and other European countries, killing thousands in over 170 countries. It therefore calls for collective action, pay attention to what government and medical experts say and to comply. He pointed out the symptoms of the disease to include fever, tiredness, dry cough, shortness of breath, aches, pains etc. Prevention, he noted is by personal hygiene, keeping of social distance at least 1 metre, using hand sanitizers and stay at home. Bishop Dunia announced the suspension of Sacraments of the Church with large gathering to include Baptism, Marriages but that pious societies can gather no more than 20 persons and that the Chrism mass, mass of the last supper- Holy Thursday would hold without washing of feet while Good Friday and Easter vigil masses will be celebrated with a select few, he stated. KADUNA ARCHDIOCESE The Archbishop of Kaduna Most Rev. Matthew Man Oso Ndagoso said the Covid-19 requires a tougher measure to curtail it and therefore called on priests, religious and the lay faithful to obey the government directives and the Church’s position on the pandemic. In his words ‘I wish to inform you of the following additional measures to cope with the disease’. Gathering of more than 50 persons must be avoided as directed by the government. Zonal arrangement can be used for Sunday masses keeping in mind the number of persons permitted in a gathering. Sunday masses can’t last more than 45 minutes and one hour to allow time for the priest to celebrate masses on Sunday, he added. UMUAHIA/AHIARA Bishop Lucius Ugorji of Umuahia Diocese and Administrator of Ahiara Diocese has also released what he called pastoral guidelines in these difficult times. He said general precautionary measures in the wake of the pandemic should be intensified in parishes, religious houses, institutions to curb the spread of Covid-19 and that those above 60 with underlying medical conditions should observe self isolation, regular drinking of warm water, avoiding cold drinks and observance of the social distancing would also help to check the disease. On the celebration of the Holy Mass and other sacraments of the Church he said efforts should be made to celebrate masses in small groups while offering the sign of peace in the form of simple bow, smile and wave of hands. Distribution of Holy Communion should be observed without touching the recipient. The suspension of Holy water fount remains. Also parishes are to prepare for financial emergencies, ensure reasonable savings by suspending non urgent expenditure. He also said the time is now to exercise corporal works of mercy, encouraging parishes and organisations to set up platforms for groups and volunteers to mobilise and organise help for the indigent during this period of crisis adding that in this perilous time in our life, as a people of faith we need to see things in the exaltation of Jesus to His Apostles ‘’Do not be afraid. Trust in God and trust in me’’(john 14:1). Accordingly, the Statement urged individuals and families to fall back on the intercessory power of Helper of the afflicted by daily recitation of the Rosary for God to intervene during this dark difficult moments.