CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Pray for Duterte Philippine bishops say

MANILA (UCAN): Catholic bishops in the Philippines have asked people to pray for the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, so that he can be “healed and forgiven” and not to engage him in a war of words after he called God stupid and found fault with the creation story during a summit in Davao on June 22 (Sunday Examiner, July 1).
 
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, a vocal critic of the president, said on June 27 that Duterte “could be a victim of his scarred past and his wounded background.”
 
He said, “He must have received so much rejection and hurt in the past that he blurts out so much hatred and angst now,” adding, “If he had been much loved, he would be giving so much of that love too.” 
 
A statement from the presidential palace defended Duterte’s tirades, saying that they stemmed from his alleged bad experiences with priests. In several pronouncements, Duterte claimed that he was a victim of abuse by a priest during his childhood. 
 
However, Archbishop Villegas said that while Filipinos pray for healing and for God’s forgiveness, there is also a need to rebuke the president on his errors about the Christian faith. 
 
“He is a person in authority and some of you might get confused when you hear him,” he said.
 
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, vice president of the bishops’ conference, pointed out that even if Duterte does not agree with the teachings of the Church he has no right to insult it.
 
“Disagreeing is never a license to insult,” the bishop said. “How can he be the president of all Filipinos when he does not respect the Catholic faithful?” he added.
 
Bishop David said Catholics respect the president’s role and mandate. “We can only hope that he shows the same respect to Catholics,” he said.
 
In a related development, Luis Cardinal Tagle of Manila, also issued a statement urging people not to be distracted by Duterte’s diatribes.
 
“Be at peace. Be calm. Don’t let things disturb your inner peace. Let us read the situation with the eyes of the faith,” the cardinal said in a statement addressed to priests.
 
“While these questions are extremely important ... let us not be distracted from addressing other pressing concerns with the fervour of faith and love,” Cardinal Tagle wrote.
 
Among the pressing issues the cardinal referred to were rising prices, job security, exploitation of women and children, violence, crime, terrorism and corruption.
 
“Those who do not believe in God must serve out of human decency, generosity, and concern for neighbours,” he said.
 
Cardinal Tagle urged people “to strive to respect those who differ from their beliefs,” adding that religions “are not to be used for conflicts but for mutual understanding and peace.”
 
The presidential palace welcomed the cardinal’s statement with presidential spokesperson, Harry Roque Jr, saying that Duterte should be afforded the same religious freedom that all Filipinos enjoy.  
 
“We know that we have different faiths, that is why we should respect our differences,” Roque said, adding that the president has already called for a dialogue with Church leaders.
 
He then announced the appointment of cabinet secretary, Leoncio Evasco Jr., a former Catholic priest, to a committee tasked with holding dialogues with different Churches. 
 
Roque said Duterte’s goal in conducting is to foster cooperation in the campaigns against corruption, illegal drugs, and poverty.
 
“The president really expects better working relations with the Catholic Church,” Roque said, adding that Duterte is against divorce, abortion, and same-sex marriage.

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