As part of the deconfinement and reopening of places of worship in most European countries, there is a plan to disinfect and systematically clean all liturgical objects before each office. The Pontifical Council for Culture, however, is warning about the danger of using certain products.
Indeed, the risk of damaging works of art is taken very seriously. “The hygienic recommendations related to the fight against the coronavirus in churches must be applied with discernment,” the dicastery created by Pope John Paul II declared, on May 21, 2020.
“Using corrosive products such as bleach, ammonia and detergents can leave ‘harmful residues’ and ‘should not be used on monumental complexes, historical buildings, archaeological sites, objects, movable heritage, fabrics, embroidery, etc. as they could cause irreversible damage,” warns the document, which states: “under no circumstances should a painting or historical document be disinfected” with alcohol or cleaning products.
It is also recalled that in churches closed for more than a month, the virus is unlikely to have survived. It is therefore simply advisable to ventilate the spaces.
“We must not forget that cultural heritage is a nonrenewable asset, and therefore every action that may affect its state of conservation must be properly known, assessed, documented and agreed upon with experts,” says the Council for Culture.