A study done in Austria has demonstrated that over 80% of 21 “holy water springs” and “18 fonts” had high levels of microbes as well as fecal matter. The study was conducted by Vienna university.
Immediately, comedians like Bill Maher tweeted silly tweets mocking the study while giving his usual jab at religion. Other atheists began to use this study to attack Catholicism and religion in general claiming the study to show that “religion is full of sh…” These kinds of comments only show the ignorance behind atheism and how it fails to realize that holy water is not immune to natural processes or phenomenon.
Any water source, blessed or not will contract bacteria, algae and other substances when touched by hands or an external source. This is a no-brainer. The attempt to make this study into a “holy water doesn’t work or is a source or infection” thing is silly. Anyone who critically analyzes the study will come to the conclusion that there is a big problem of personal hygiene in Austria. The water is NOT the problem. The problem comes from the people who are contaminating the water. Atheists who are using this study to attack the sacramental called ‘holy water’ are merely demonstrating a lack of critical thinking skills.
More needs to be done to teach people about hygiene; not only in Austria, but all over the world. Other studies have found fecal matter and deadly microbes on public phones, ATM machines, door knobs, cell phones, book, rails on staircases, etc. (http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/EnvironmentalHealth/33001, http://healthland.time.com/2011/10/17/study-1-in-6-cell-phones-contaminated-with-fecal-matter/) Are we to conclude that public phones, door knobs etc generate disease and fecal matter? No, of course not! The problem is again the people who touch these things and do not practice hygiene, not the things themselves.
We all must wash our hands constantly and use purell or other antibacterial gels when out in public. This should be common sense. People should not drink holy water. The Church has no teaching stating that we should drink holy water. Holy Water is a sacramental, or holy reminders that are blessed and used to remind us of Christ and bring about pious actions. It is not spring water to drink, nor medicine. Sacristans in parishes should make sure to wash fonts regularly and replace the holy water often.