CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 August 2019

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Mayor goes one expletive too far

DAVAO (SE): Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that the gun-slinging mayor of Davao City and currently presidential candidate, Rodrigo Duterte, went one expletive too far when he cursed the figure of Pope Francis during a November 30 rant over traffic congestion during the pope’s visit to The Philippines in January this year.

Duterte, who has trouble stringing a sentence together without a few expletives, was quoted by CBCP News as saying, “I wanted to call out, ‘Pope you (expletive deleted) go home. Don’t come here anymore’.”

Archbishop Villegas said that further shame was added when the audience laughed heartily at the foul-mouthed presidential candidate’s remark.

“When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laughs, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame,” the archbishop responded. “My countrymen have gone to the dregs.”

In a tit-for-tat, Archbishop Villegas then denounced political candidates for the murders and adultery they are renowned for.

“Killing is a crime and a sin, whether it is done by criminals or public officials, no matter what the intention,” he said, “and adultery makes married love cheap and uses people for pleasure.”

However, Duterte then took his attack further, claiming that he was sexually abused by an American priest, whom he later named as being a Father Mark Falvey sj, when he was a student at Ateneo de Davao in the 1950s.

“I will tell you the abuses committed against the minors at that time... including me,” Duterte told reporters, after two bishops had criticised him for cursing Pope Francis in his speech.

The mayor said he would expose everything about the conduct of the Jesuits at their educational institutions if the bishops continued to criticise his candidacy.

“Do not make a big deal out of it, Socrates,” Duterte fumed at a meeting with Archbishop Villegas. “If you do, I will withdraw from the presidential race, then you debate with me. Let us trace the history of your Church.”

However, the Jesuits in The Philippines say they do not know of a Father Falvey, but will investigate the accusation, as Duterte may have the name wrong.

But 1950 is a long time ago and, because Duterte did not finish either primary or secondary school at Ateneo, even checking if, or during what periods he attended the school will take time.

However, Archbishop Oscar Cruz told him that fuming is not sufficient. “I’m begging the good mayor on bended knees to please go to the civil court and there file a case against these priests,” the retired archbishop said. However, Duterte said that he will not file a case.

While cursing the pope is one thing, Inday Espiña-Varona says in a report published by UCAN that a national survey of presidential candidates reveals that the self-confessed proponent of extrajudicial murder as a solution to social problems has close to a 40 per cent support rating across the country.

Duterte leads the stakes among all economic classes and, to the surprise of pundits, his highest approval rating comes from the more comfortable and better educated classes.

This is prodding the Church to re-examine its role in a democracy threatened by endemic poverty and human rights violations, as Filipinos came out in their millions to welcome Pope Francis, praising every papal act of compassion.

Inday Espiña-Varona is questioning why they are now ignoring his admonitions against using violence to solve social woes and are even critical of Archbishop Villegas’ defence of the pope.

Father Benjamin Alforque says that middle-class Filipinos still have collective memories of how it feels to be poor and powerless, as many of the victims of human rights and corruption are the rural poor—peasants and farmers—abused by landlords, who also are corrupt politicians. Yet these same tormentors are also their models.

There’s no denying the perks of wealth. The horror of feudalism is the strong mesh of abuse and patronage that leaves generations subservient, even thankful, for their oppressive state.

Father Alforque calls it a duality that confuses, because Filipinos have a rich legacy of struggle against Spain, against the United States of America and a dictator.

He adds that because too many clergy seek favours from landlords and politicos without addressing the need to change structures that violate human rights, they perpetuate corruption.

He stresses that teaching people that suffering here on earth leads to the salvation of the individual soul in heaven only aggravates social injustice.

 

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