CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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Duterte renews attacks on Church

MANILA (UCAN): Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said Church leaders are “saddened and disturbed” by the recent statements by Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, who renewed his attacks on the country’s Catholic leaders and urged Filipinos to stop going to church altogether.
 
Duterte, who earlier this year called God “stupid,” suggested that people should instead build their own chapels where they can pray.
 
“You don’t have to go to church to pay for these idiots,” Duterte said on November 26, referring to bishops who have condemned the spate of drug-related killings in the country. 
 
In his speech, Duterte lambasted the bishops for believing in an “archaic” Church that is only good at making money.
 
“The Catholic Church and Bishop David are clinging to a belief 3,000 years ago,” he said. “How can people 3,000 years ago predict what is happening today?”
 
The president’s recent tirade came after he insinuated that Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, gave church donations to his family.
 
“You, David, you be quiet. You go on asking for contributions ... Where does the people’s money go?” the president asked in a speech on November 22.
 
“You know, the truth is, I tell you, the offerings, the pineapple, avocado, bananas, where do they go? You want to know? I will show you. (They go) To his family,” Duterte fumed, “The fool just keeps on asking—there is even a second collection.” He also said he thought the bishop might be into drugs and threatened him with hanging.
 
In a statement, Bishop David, a vocal critic of drug-related killings in the Philippines, said “people who are sick sometimes do not know what they are talking about.”
 
Earlier this month, the bishop asked the public to pray for Duterte for he is a “very sick man.” He made the statement after the president called saints “fools” and “drunkards.”
 
Bishop David’s pronouncement seemed to anger the president. On November 26, Duterte said he thought that the bishop might be into drugs. “I’m telling you, David. I wonder why he goes around in the evening. I suspect that he might be into drugs,” said the president.
 
In reply, Bishop David posted on Facebook: “No sir, I’m not into drugs of any sort, whether legal of illegal. Never been. I only help in rehabilitating people addicted to drugs ...” 
 
The bishop quipped, “Thank God I am not even taking any maintenance drugs yet. I only take vitamins with fruit shake blended (with moringa) in the morning. You might want to try it, sir. It will do you a lot of good. God bless you.”
 
Archbishop Valles, who is a friend of Duterte, expressed surprise at the president’s pronouncements “that allege that Bishop David had committed actions that question his integrity.”
 
He added, “Bishop David has already answered clearly and equally all these allegations.”
 
Archbishop Valles said the country’s bishops can vouch that Bishop David, a Bible scholar and critic of Duterte’s anti-narcotics war, is a “very good bishop, a dedicated shepherd and father of his flock.”
 
“He is very passionate in his ministry, bringing mercy and compassion, especially to the poor and suffering among his people,” he said.
 
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, said people should ignore the president’s statement.
 
“Every Filipino in their right mind should ignore this nonsense,” said Bishop Bastes. “I don’t want to comment on this crazy idea. I am tired of his stupid remarks.”
 
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, said the president’s statement is “very irresponsible and heartless” and could sow division.
 
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, said Duterte’s ranting “will have no effect.”

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