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Philippines: Church warns against 'holy alcohol'

June 9, 2020

Churchgoers in the Philippines have been urged not to fall for products advertised as being "holy" to protect themselves from COVID-19. Besides alcohol, church leaders said there's "no such thing" as a holy face mask.

A devotee cries as she prays inside the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Favila

The Catholic Church in the Philippines warned against buying "holy alcohol" and other products claiming to protect against the coronavirus.

"There is no sacramental holy alcohol that we should make the sign of the cross with when we rub it to ourselves," the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said in a statement on Monday. "Moreover, it should not be sprinkled on the faithful."

They likewise warned that there is "no such things" as holy face masks, holy face shields, holy hand sanitizer and holy personal protective equipment.

"This is an irreverent marketing strategy or gimmick," the statement added.

They issued the warning after an archdiocese outside of the capital Manila flagged "fake news" reports about the church replacing holy water with "holy alcohol," news agency DPA reported.

The CBCP said that many churches emptied their holy water fonts in recent months to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but that the holy water had not been replaced with rubbing alcohol.

Read more: Philippine anti-terrorism law triggers fear of massive rights abuses

Churches across the predominantly Catholic country were closed for months due to the COVID-19 lockdown, although some restrictions have eased starting in June. 

Some Catholic churches reopened to worshippers over the weekend, although the number of people allowed to attend mass is limited.

In Manila where the number of COVID-19 cases is higher, only 10 people are allowed to attend a mass at a time. In other areas of the country, churches are allowed to have up to 50% of their seating capacity, DPA reported.

Read more: How women pay the price of pandemic-induced health care shortages

The country has logged 22,474 COVID-19 cases so far as well as 1,011 deaths.

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