Bishop vows probe into Ash Wednesday forehead burns

Bishop vows probe into Ash Wednesday forehead burns

Close up photo of bowls of fine grey ashes. JOHANN MANGUSSAD

MANILA— A Roman Catholic diocese vowed to leave “no single stone unturned” in its investigation into the “strange” burns on churchgoers’ foreheads at Ash Wednesday service in Caloocan City.

Several worshipers at the San Roque Cathedral suffered minor burns after receiving ashes to mark the beginning of Lent.

After people complained of a “burning sensation” on their foreheads, Church authorities immediately pulled out the ashes and referred those affected to the cathedral clinic for first aid treatment.

Samples of the ashes were then brought to a chemical laboratory to find out what happened, although the church’s volunteer doctor said that the burns may be caused by a “chemical substance”.

But since only some and not all Mass-goers suffered burns, Bishop Pablo David of Kalookan said this could only mean that not all containers contained the supposed toxic substance.

“We apologize for whatever harm has inadvertently been caused by what should have been a solemn ritual marking the beginning of Lent,” David said.

“Rest assured that we will not leave a single stone unturned in order to find out what had caused this unfortunate incident,” he said.

The prelate said he already asked the cathedral’s security team to review the footage from closed-circuit television cameras “for any possibility of sabotage”.

He added that those affected may come to the chancery office for treatment. The diocese also offered to reimburse the expenses of those who already availed medication from other clinics.

He also said that they have already checked if their cathedral staff had done anything with the ashes. “They too were puzzled by what had happened,” David said. CBCPNews