Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo made the appeal in response to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ pronouncement that President Duterte’s tirades against the Church would have more damaging effect on the Chief Executive than on the 2,000-year-old institution.
PPD/King Rodriguez
Stop ‘interfering’ with state affairs, clergy asked
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday asked Catholic clergy to refrain from "interfering" with the state's efforts to promote public welfare.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo made the appeal in response to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ pronouncement that President Duterte’s tirades against the Church would have more damaging effect on the Chief Executive than on the 2,000-year-old institution.

Panelo said clergymen should focus on spiritual matters and should "do something positive" instead of criticizing Duterte.

"What we are saying is if you are a man of the cloth, your job is about the spiritual awakening of the faithful," Panelo said at a press briefing.

“Do not interfere with the state with respect to its methods for promoting the welfare of the public," he said.

He added Villegas should instead help and pray for the president, who has been attacking Catholic bishops critical of his bloody war on illegal drugs.

Villegas earlier said Duterte’s attacks on the Catholic Church were making him more worried about the President than about the Church that a majority of Filipinos profess to follow.

The prelate noted that Catholicism, the faith of more than 80 percent Filipinos, has survived trials for more than 2,000 years. He said Duterte’s habit of spewing vitriol at the Church would have far worse impact on the leader’s health and stature.

"With respect to his (Villegas) claim that he is not worried about the Church, oh with more reason. Then they should not be concerned, alarmed or angry at any tirade against the Church because as he correctly says, it’s been there for a thousand years. So, it’s entrenched, so it won't be affected. Why react?" Panelo said.

Asked if he expects the word war between Duterte and the Church to end soon, Panelo replied: "The President cannot be stopped from speaking his mind on any particular manner that to his mind is important. In the same way you can’t also stop these bishops from speaking themselves. Whatever they say, they will talk. So let it be."

Duterte had said he would continue attacking the Catholic Church "until it corrects itself."

CATHOLIC CHURCH RODRIGO DUTERTE SALVADOR PANELO
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