Duterte to continue attacks until Church 'corrects itself'

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte to continue attacks until Church 'corrects itself'
President Rodrigo Duterte and CBCP president Romulo Valles had a private meeting in Malacañang on July 9, 2018, which supposedly led to a "moratorium on statements about the Church." That moratorium was broken within days.
Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — The rift between President Rodrigo Duterte and the Catholic Church is not likely to end anytime soon as he vowed to continue attacking the Philippines' predominant faith until it "corrects itself." 

Duterte said the Church, which has expressed alarm over the deaths tied to the government's drug war, should go slow in criticizing him because priests have their own wrongdoings.

"Dahan-dahan lang kayo (Go slow)...(It) has to correct itself...Pag hindi, kalaban nila talaga nila ako (If not, I will remain its opponent)… And I will continue to attack them," Duterte said during the distribution of land ownership certificates to agrarian reform beneficiaries in Kidapawan City last Saturday. 

Duterte went on to enumerate a litany of supposed transgressions by Catholic clergymen. He said a 30-year-old priest in Davao City died of AIDS last week but declined to elaborate. He also cited a report about a priest who allegedly beat up a minor who failed to feed his pet dog.

The president repeated his unfounded allegation that a priest prayed for his death in a mass and accused the Church of inventing heaven and hell to scare people into submission. 

Duterte, who claimed to have been molested by a priest when he was a student, claimed that the clergy abuses depicted in national hero Jose Rizal's novel "Noli me Tangere" are still present in the country. 

"Do not use the platform of religion to criticize me. Just say that I am wrong," Duterte added. 

RELATED: Palace: Duterte not using Church as smokescreen for failings

Dennis Coronacion, chairman of the University of Santo Tomas Political Science department, expressed belief that Duterte's attacks against the Church were not meant to undermine the religious institution but to express resentment towards clergymen who criticize his policies. 

"The president's verbal attacks against the Church leaders are all part of his strategy of discrediting them," Coronacion told The STAR. 

"In general, the president's anti-Church rhetoric will not work since most Filipinos hold their Church leaders in high regard. This can only work to the sections of the population that, just like the president, resent the Catholic Church for its imperfection," he added. 

Coronacion agreed that the Duterte would continue hurling tirades at the Church, 

"Since the president's anti-Church rhetoric has become a staple of our country's politics, I'm not optimistic that this is going to disappear until he steps down in 2022," he said.

RELATED: ‘Stupid God’ remarks reflect failures of Catholic education — experts

Duterte questions doctrine of the Trinity

Duterte's attacks went beyond the Catholic clergy as he scored the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which states that there is only one God in three divine persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

"There is only one God, period. You cannot divide God into three. That’s silly," the president said.

The president also reiterated his misgivings about the Bible and the veneration of saints, whom the Catholic Church regards as models of the faith. 

 "Look, these documents were written, if at all, 3,000 years ago. What is their relevance to our lives today? Who wrote them? Who is St. Thomas? We do not know who he is. Perhaps it was just a name of a camel then," Duterte said. 

"Magdasal ka na sa isang Diyos, magdasal ka pa dito sa mga santong y*** (You pray to God but you also have to pray to these devil saints)," he added. 

Coronacion said Duterte's verbal attacks against the Church are not the result of deep religious or philosophical reflections.

"They reveal that he treats the Catholic Church more as a political actor than a religious institution deserving his respect. By viewing the Church as a political actor, the president subjects its leaders to the same verbal attacks that he has hurled at the other political actors critical of his government," he added. 

RELATED: Palace on Duterte's comment on saints: People laughed, weren't offended

Rody admits touching maid

While Duterte accused priests of immoral acts, he admitted to committing a lewd act when he was a teenager. 

Duterte said he once confessed to a priest that he went to the room of a maid to touch her private parts. 

“I lifted the blanket...I tried to touch what was inside the (panties)," the president said. 

“I was touching. She woke up. So I left the room," he added. 

Duterte said he went to the bathroom after the episode but returned to the room to "try to insert" his finger on the maid's private parts. He then told the priest that he returned to the bathroom, prompting the priest to ask him to say five Our Father’s and five Hail Mary’s as penance for his acts. 

"Media? Totoo man. Lahat man ng mga bata dumaan ng…(Members of the media are here? It’s true. All children went through that)," he claimed. 

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