Palace: Duterte still open to dialogue with Church leaders
MANILA, Philippines — Despite his unceasing tirades and insults against Catholic Church leaders and teachings, President Rodrigo Duterte is still open to a dialogue with members of the clergy, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the remark after Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed willingness to mediate between Duterte and the Catholic Church amid the increasing hostility between the two camps.
“Of course. Kung hinihingi ba nila. Wala naman problema kay Presidente ‘yon (Of course, if they are asking for it. There’s no problem with that),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing when asked if Duterte remains open to a possible dialogue with the Church.
Duterte frequently draws criticisms for his controversial statements against the Catholic Church, the dominant religion in the Philippines.
In June last year, he drew flak for calling God “stupid.” After the controversy it stirred, Duterte committed to improving relations with the Catholic Church.
Among the steps he took include taking on a self-imposed moratorium on tirades against the Church and forming a three-man committee that will hold dialogues with church leaders from various sects. The moratorium, however, did not last long as Duterte continues to lash out against the Catholic Church.
In previous speeches, Duterte described the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity as “silly.”
Holding up the book, “Altar of Secrets: Sex, Politics and Money in the Philippine Catholic Church” to his audience in Bulacan, Duterte dared members of the clergy last week to prove him wrong about his allegations against the church and the priests.
He also asked bystanders to rob and attack “rich” bishops.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes is the latest to slam Duterte’s tirade against the clergy, raising concern about its possible effects on the young generation.
“This is a serious matter… the young generation might make him a role model in speaking improperly as though words have no moral consequences,” Bastes said.
Panelo, who has been defending Duterte’s scathing remarks against the church, said the President was just hitting back at the Church officials who have been critical of his policies and administration.
“Ever since ganun na ‘yung style niya. Ang ibig niya lang sabihin, kayong mga nasa simbahan, especially the bishops, you’re living in comfort and yet the people are wallowing in poverty. Hindi niyo ginagawa ‘yung katuruang binibigay niyo sa faithfuls,” Panelo said.
(That’s his style ever since. What he only means is that church leaders, especially the bishops, are living in comfort and yet the people are wallowing in poverty. You are not practicing what you tach the faithful.)
“Saka isa pa, diba sabi ni Presidente, ‘hirap naman sa inyo kayo ang naunang bumanat sakin, ngayong binabanatan ko kayo nagrereact kayo (Moreover, the President said the difficult thing is that they him first. If he responds, they will react)’. If you can unleash tirades against the President, then be ready to receive some in return,” he added. /ee
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