By Leslie Aquino
We will not leave a single stone unturned.
This was the assurance of Caloocan Bishop Pablo David to the public as the bishopric continues to investigate the complaints of some mass goers of the San Roque Cathedral who reported feeling a burning sensation when they had their foreheads marked with ashes during Ash Wednesday.
According to David, some Mass-goers reported feeling a burning sensation on their foreheads immediately after the imposition of ashes on them and when they washed it off in the parish toilets they noted what looked like reddish rashes or blisters on the very spots that had been wiped with ashes.
Upon hearing of the complaints, he said their cathedral pastoral vicar immediately pulled out the ashes and rushed to neighboring parishes to ask for some of their own ashes.
David said when the affected individuals were referred to the cathedral clinic for first aid treatment, their volunteer doctor said it was indeed like skin burns caused by a chemical substance.
Their volunteer doctor, he said then suggested having the ashes (mingled with holy water) tested in a nearby chemical laboratory and they are now waiting for the result.
David said due to the incident they checked if their cathedral staff had done anything with the ashes that was different from what they have done for many years already but they too were puzzled by what had happened.
“The fact that only some and not all the Mass-goers seem to have been adversely affected by the ashes could only mean that only some specific containers contained the toxic substance, and not all of them,” he said in a statement.
The Caloocan prelate said they already asked their staff to review their CCTV footages for any possibility of “sabotage.”
“Could somebody have maliciously sneaked in to mix acid in the ashes?” asked David.
In the meantime, he said they already deployed some volunteers to immediately apply first aid treatment on those who have been affected, bought the ointment recommended by the doctor for immediate relief and treatment, and made it available for anyone who has been affected.
Bishop David asked those affected to come to them for treatment and for those who spent for treatment to just present to them the receipt for medications bought so they will be reimbursed.
“We apologize for whatever harm has inadvertently been caused by what should have been a solemn ritual marking the beginning of Lent,” he said.
“Rest assured that we will not leave a single stone unturned in order to find out what had caused this unfortunate incident,” added David.