Palace to Catholic clergy: Stop meddling in state affairs
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday told members of the Catholic clergy to stop meddling in state affairs as there seems to be no end to the word war between President Rodrigo Duterte and the Catholic Church.
In a radio interview Thursday, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said he was more worried for President Rodrigo Duterte, who has verbally attacked the clergy for its alleged corruption and abuses, than the Catholic Church.
The President’s tirades, Villegas said, may not be good for the President’s health and for his stature as the country’s top leader.
While Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo says he recognizes criticisms hurled by the Catholic clergy as freedom of expression, Catholic bishops and priests should not interfere with government affairs.
“That’s freedom of expression. They are entitled to that,” Panelo said, referring to the criticisms of the Catholic clergy against the President.
“What we are saying is, if you’re men of the cloth, your duty is the spiritual awakening of the faithful. You should not meddle in state affairs with respect to the methods it is doing, which is for the benefit of the nation,” he added.
Instead of criticizing the President, Panelo said Villegas should instead pray for the Chief Executive.
“Then he should pray for the President, then he should help the President. Then he should do something positive rather than attack the administration,” he said.
“That’s why if he (Villegas) is worried about his (President’s) character, he feels that is not right, then he should pray for him,” he added.
According to Panelo, If Villegas is not worried for the Catholic Church because it has survived far worse attacks, “then with more reason that they should not be concerned, alarmed or angry at any tirade against the Church, because as you correctly said, it’s been there for a thousand years, so it’s entrenched.”
“So why are they reacting? Now if they’re affected by the criticism on the hypocrisy of certain members, if they’re not alluded to, they’re not embraced in that group, then why should they be reacting?” Panelo asked.
“According to bishop Socrates, it does not affect the Church. So what is there problem? If it does not affect the Church, then fine. Whatever word you use there, they’re just engaged in polemics,” he said.
Panelo said no one could stop Duterte from “speaking his mind.”
“The President cannot be stopped from speaking his mind, on any particular matter that to his mind is important. In the same way that you cannot also stop these bishops from speaking themselves. Whatever he says, they will also react. So let’s leave it at that for now,” he said. /muf
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