Scientists and medical professionals are still the most reliable people to talk about the dangers of the coronavirus, but apparently, former Archbishop of Lipa Ramon Arguelles believes he’s also a pandemic expert.
The prelate said some pretty alarming things during his Wednesday homily in Santo Tomas, Batangas which went viral yesterday, in which he advised the faithful to stop wearing masks because God can protect them from the virus.
“You don’t need a mask, you don’t need a face shield, [social] distancing is not necessary. Why? God loves us and we love him, and we love each other. He is the great healer. When God is with us, you don’t have to worry,” Arguelles said in English and Filipino.
He didn’t stop there. He also called out the Duterte government for prohibiting minors and the elderly from going to church, an evil idea.
The country’s health protocol dictates that only 10 people are allowed inside a place of worship at any given time.
“Those who are under 21 years old and the elderly, 60 years old and above are not allowed [to enter the church]. Why? Because children and the elderly are the ones who are closest to God. Why do they want to [separate] them [from the church]? Who thought of that? It’s the devil,” he said.
“[They] stopped people from touching [religious icons] because there might be a virus….[But] no one gets sick inside the church. What we seek is healing,” he added.
When confronted by news program 24 Oras about his controversial and unscientific statements, Arguelles stood by them and insisted that the government’s health protocols will not curb the spread of COVID-19. He even said some questionable stuff that would make an epidemiologist furious.
“Face masks aren’t the solution and it’s especially exaggerated. Social distancing is not the answer. You will get even more ill [from wearing masks] because you’re inhaling the carbon dioxide [which you exhaled]. We should inhale oxygen. That is not the solution,” he said.
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t practice social distancing but don’t exaggerate it as if it’s the ultimate remedy. My whole point is that churches should not be closed down,” he said.
“Not everything that [science] tells us should be believed. Even if people get mad at me, I will tell the truth. God is our only hope,” he insisted.
The bishop may not have heard of this fact, but the Philippines has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, with 296,755 cases recorded as of yesterday. At least 5,127 have died, many of whom are elderly, so yes, wearing a face mask is necessary.