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Philippine Christians unite against Duterte tirades

MANILA (UCAN): An estimated 3,000 Catholic and Protestants from various religious groups formed a human chain and lit candles to profess their “unity in faith and action” as they took to the streets of Manila, the Philippines, on January 25, to denounce what they claimed is a campaign being waged against the Church, primarily by the president, Rodrigo Duterte.
They said they had gathered “to declare that our God is not stupid.”
In a statement, the groups said the “sneers, false testimonies, repugnant stories and outright lies” of Duterte have “offend(ed) our hearts and human sensibilities.”
Since he took office in 2016, Duterte has repeatedly attacked Catholic Church leaders, even questioning Church teachings and calling God “stupid.”
In recent weeks, the president went as far as to urge people to either rob or kill bishops.
The Church groups also criticised government policies, especially the “war against illegal drugs.”
At least 20,000 suspected drug users and dealers have reportedly been killed in the government’s two-year old anti-narcotics campaign.
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, said people have to “speak up in one voice against injustice and oppression.”
He said, “This day invites us to walk together and defend Christianity.” 
Nardy Sabino, secretary-general of the Promotion of Church Peoples’ Response, said the attacks have to stop.
“They will not stop if we do not make (the president) stop,” the leader of the ecumenical Church group said.
“The Christian community has the strongest voice… We want to show our strength, not just in numbers but also in our devotion to hold the line, stand our ground, and protect our faith,” he said.
Bishop Rex Reyes of the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum said Church leaders were being ridiculed because they side with the poorest sectors of society.
“The forces that united us here are injustice, abuse of power and poverty (and) we look at these issues from the perspective of our faith,” Bishop Joseph Agpaoa of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, said.
The bishop said Protestants are “in solidarity” with Filipino Catholics because “we are all part of the universal Church.”
Among the groups spearheading the event were the Episcopal Commission on the Laity of the Catholic Bishops’ Bonference of the Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, and the Promotion of Church People’s Response.

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