Can Catholics visit Botanicas, or Curanderos, or Albularyos

Can Catholics visit Botanicas, or Curanderos, or Albularyos?

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Can Catholics visit Botanicas, or Curanderos, or Albularyos?


 Catholics should not buy items from Botanicas or visit Curanderos, Albularyos, or other so-called “faith healers.” Such stores and practices are against the Catholic faith.

It may appear that botanicas, curanderos, albularyo, and others known as “faith healers” align with the Catholic faith. Their stores and home chapels often feature statues of saints, like St. Michael, St. Lazarus, and St. Clare, and they attribute their healing abilities to divine intervention. However, Catholics must recognize that the Church has consistently disapproved of these so-called “healers” from apostolic times. In reality, these “healing aids” are more akin to magic, incantations, and sorcery, which the early Church rejected as part of the use of “pharmakeia” from the beginning. Similar to these practices are various “new age” healing aids such as crystals, chakra points, and Riki healings. Catholics need to understand that these practices are considered sinful and are condemned by the First Commandment.[i]

One can not defend such practices by appealing to the idea that they represent one’s cultural heritage, such as countries like Haiti, Mexico, or the Philippines. It’s important to remember that Catholic missionaries rejected such practices whenever they found them throughout the centuries. These missionaries, guided by the Church’s teachings, developed “pastoral medicine” methods to disseminate the best knowledge of how to heal or prevent people from various diseases. Furthermore, one should know that many of these so-called “traditional practices” have been developed over the last century, combining traditional pagan shaman practices with herbal remedies and often the personal quack theories of the practitioners.

One should not be fooled by the idea that such “healers” are performing their arts through the miraculous help of God. Catholics have always believed in miracles wrought by the saints over the centuries; there are many testimonies about them. However, there are clear distinctions between how botanicas, curanderos, albularyos, faith healers, and Jesus’ followers perform miracles.

Christians perform them through the power of Jesus alone and do not charge those they help. Botanicas and the sort usually require payment and call on various forces or perform cleansing rituals to unlock the “hidden powers of nature.” Their method is akin to the practice of Simon Magus in the Acts of the Apostles.[ii] Christians do not call on any hidden powers, nor do they guarantee they will perform a miracle, for this would be to tempt God. The miracles of authentic followers of Jesus are given as signs to point you to faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church he founded. The so-called “healings” of Botanicas and the like make you slaves to the practitioners who market themselves as “experts” in the “art of healing,” so you keep coming back.

The authentic Catholic approach to the healing arts is to recommend medications and drugs, including herbal remedies, whose effectiveness can be shown through rational means. Such an approach recognizes that God ordered all things for our good. In the Book of Wisdom, in the complete Catholic Bible, we read that God created all things good, and no destructive drug is among them.[iii] We further read in the book of Sirach that God works through doctors, and he “created medicines from the earth.”[iv] The Catholic approach does not contrast medicine studied scientifically with so-called “natural methods.” The scientific method was developed at Catholic universities in the late Middle Ages, which sought to study the number and order of God’s ways in creation.[v] Catholics were at the forefront of developing scientific studies of the medical arts.

One should be aware that there is also a darker side to many botanicas and the like. Many of them mix Santeria, voodoo, mangkukulam, fortune-telling, Santa Muerte, witchcraft, and other forms of black magic with their practices. Jesus alone is Lord. If God uses angels to perform miracles, they always point one toward God as Lord and draw one away from giving undue power to creatures or forces of nature. As seen in the Acts of the Apostles, fortune tellers can acquire knowledge by possessing demonic spirits if they are not fakes.[vi]  A warning: one cannot control demons, who act as angels of light, inspiring Santeria, voodoo, mangkukulam, witchcraft, as well as white and black magic. These demons may fulfill your wishes for a while, but their ultimate goal is to enslave you. It is the experience of many priests involved in deliverance and exorcism who drive out demons in the name of Jesus and the person of Jesus. All of these activities are “open doors” to invite demons into your and your family’s life.

If you have purchased items from such stores, throw them away or bring them into a Catholic church to a priest familiar with deliverance and have him dispose of them for you. If you believe you have a curse, hex, or spell upon you because of your association with such practices, go to the sacrament of confession and renounce by name any practices associated with such stores, such as the spirit of “occult,” the spirit of “Santeria,” the spirit of “Santa Muerte,” or spirits associated with black magic, or the spirit of “voodoo,” and any pacts you may have made with such spirits.[vii] A knowledgeable Catholic priest can break curses, hexes, or spells upon you.

Lay people and non-Catholic ministers, even ones claiming a gift of healing, may not be able to break some curses, hexes, or spells because they do not represent Jesus Christ to the demons.  Through their sacramental ordination, Catholic priests stand in the “person of Christ,” which the demons recognize.[viii]   

In summary, Catholics should stay away from stores that sell such items and renounce visiting such so-called healers. Confess your sins if you have visited such places or people. Catechize other Catholics and all people that such places should be rejected.



[i] The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches under the 1st commandment “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.” CCC 2216 “All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one’s service and have a supernatural power over others – even if this were for the sake of restoring their health – are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another’s credulity.” CCC 2117 from Accessed July 7, 2020.

[ii] See Acts 8:9-24. In this scriptural account the sorcerer Simon Magus tries to “buy” the power of the Holy Spirit and is condemned as thinking God’s power can be sold or bought like a magic formula.

[iii] See Wisdom 1:14.

[iv] The book Sirach in the Catholic Bible says, “Give doctors the honor they deserve, for the Lord gave them their work to do. Their skill came from the Most High, and kings reward them for it….The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible person will not hesitate to use them. Didn’t a tree once make bitter water fit to drink, so that the Lord’s power might be known? He gave medical knowledge to human beings, so that we would praise him for the miracles he performs. The druggist mixes these medicines, and the doctor will use them to cure diseases and ease pain…. My child, when you get sick, don’t ignore it. Pray to the Lord, and he will make you well. Confess all your sins and determine that in the future you will live a righteous life. Offer incense and a grain offering, as fine as you can afford. Then call the doctor—for the Lord created him—and keep him at your side; you need him. There are times when you have to depend on his skill. The doctor’s prayer is that the Lord will make him able to ease his patients’ pain and make them well again. (Sirach 38:1-15).

[v] See Trasancos, Stacy, and Paul Haffner. 2014. Science was born of Christianity: the teaching of Father Stanley L. Jaki. [Place of publication not identified]: Habitation of Chimham Publishing.

[vi] See Acts 16:16-19. St. Paul encounters a slave girl who is a fortune teller. When he does an exorcism, she no longer has this power showing a demon was giving her this power.

[vii] One can recognize a “form” of such renunciation in the Catholic ritual of RCIA for those coming into the church in the section on “minor exorcisms.” See paragraph 69-72. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

[viii] The Bible explains how the demons recognized Jesus. Priests doing deliverances and exorcisms have experienced likewise how the demons recognize the presence of Christ in them by their ordination. See for example Matthew 8:28-29.

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