According to aciafrica, a parish in the Catholic Diocese of Morogoro, Tanzania—St. Mary’s Modeco, was closed earlier in the week by Fr, Lazarus Msimbe following due consultation with the Apostolic Nuncio and a Bishop. This decision was taken after the parish was desecrated on Monday, April 27—in accordance with the canon law 1211 which states

Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.

According to the account of the watchman on duty who was brutalized by the bandits on the morning of the attack, the robbers were at least seven in number and came into the church premises through the back gate after a member of the gang jumped the fence and cut the padlock. On gaining access into the premises and the church, the men made away with the tabernacle, a sound system which had recently been purchased, monies realized from the sale of sacramentals and prayer books. Later in the day, the parish was visited by the Regional Police Commissioner, Wilbord Mtafungwa and the case is currently being investigated by security operatives.

Speaking to ACI Africa, Fr. Pius, the Assistant Parish Priest, narrated how the parish was ravaged and desecrated by robbers as experienced by the watchman.

They broke into the Church, struggled to remove the tabernacle from the wall where it was fitted, broke into the sacristy where they took the key to the tabernacle, the tabernacle had three ciboriums with the Blessed Sacrament.

Apart from the tabernacle, the gang made away with the sound system that we had purchased less than six months ago at a cost of TZS.850,000.00, an amount equivalent to US$365.00.

They broke into the money box and took away some TZS.350,000.00 (US$150.00) being funds for altar servers from their sale of sacramentals including medals, rosaries as well as prayer books.

That night, there were five of us at the parish, we heard the dogs back, which is a usual thing. The watchman notified us after the gang had left. I think the dogs prevented them from coming to the house. We are all safe. We thank God for that.”

On the reopening of the church, Fr Pius added

At the moment in accordance with Church regulations, our church is closed until further notice, and a possible option would be to open the church during the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in June.

Fr. Nicodemus Massong, the Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Modeco said the event was traumatizing for the clergy and parishioners and urged the parishioners to remain calm, and the robbers to repent and turn back to God.