CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 September 2019

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Duterte called out for attacking Church

MANILA (UCAN): Catholics in the Philippines are not letting relentless attacks on the Church and its leaders by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, go unchallenged.
 
The influential Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas, the Council of the Laity, said “more than ever, (Catholics) are called upon to live a life worthy of our Christian vocation.”
 
The lay organisation has called on Catholics “to stand up for God and defend our faith in Him ... (and) renew our commitment to go and fill our churches.”
 
Julieta Wasan, the organisation’s president, called on Catholics to proclaim their faith “courageously” not only through words but especially “by the life that we live as faithful followers of Christ.”
 
The Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines, meanwhile, also expressed its solidarity with Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, who has been a major target of Duterte’s vitriolic attacks.
 
The president recently claimed the the bishop stole money from church collections and even insinuated that the bishop may even be involved in illegal drugs, making him a target for extrajudicial killing, according to some observers (Sunday Examiner, December 6).
 
“In siding with the victims of this war, (Bishop David) has become a model of what it means to be a good shepherd who defends his flock from marauding wolves,” the society said.
 
It described Bishop David as “a beacon of hope for the Church and our society, an example of what it means to care for those who cannot defend themselves.”
 
The group called for an end to the culture of impunity in the Philippines and for the creation of a “just and inclusive society.”
 
On December 5, Duterte launched more attacks against the Catholic Church, which has been critical of his deadly war on drugs and anti-crime drive.
 
The president accused the country’s bishops of being useless for criticising his administration, which came to power in June 2016. 
 
“These bishops of bishops, kill them,” Duterte said. “This stupid bunch serve no purpose—all they do is criticise.”
 
In another speech later that same day, the president reiterated previous attacks on the Church, describing it as a hypocritical institution.
 
“Most of the priests there are homosexuals,” he railed. “Almost 90 per cent of you. So, do not postulate on my morality.”
 
Duterte also said that while he is not an atheist, he does not have the “same God” as Catholics.’
 
“I never said I do not believe in God,” he said. “What I said is your God is stupid, mine has a lot of common sense. That’s what I told the bishops. I never said I was an atheist.”
 
The Ecumenical Bishops Forum called on the public to “help protect their bishops and priests.”
 
Father Wilfredo Ruazol, executive secretary of the forum, warned of the dangers of Duterte’s recent pronouncements to kill members of the clergy.
 
“Whatever he says, his minions do,” said the priest. “The last time we heard him give a kill order against drug addicts, we counted thousands of body bags,” he added.
 
The presidential palace later tried to downplay Duterte’s remarks.
 
“I think that’s only hyperbole on the part of the president. We should be getting used to this president,” Duterte’s spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, said, insisting that the president “makes certain statements for dramatic effect.”
 
Panelo said he does not think Duterte’s remarks will encourage people to kill priests. Duterte, “just like any ordinary human being, is upset when the good things that he does for this country are not appreciated by people who are supposed to support it, like the Church.”
 

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