Palace says Duterte not alluded to by Pope’s ‘friends of the devil’ remarks
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte does not feel alluded to by Pope Francis’s remarks that people who criticize the Catholic Church are friends of the devil.
Speaking at the Vatican, the Pope said accusers who did nothing but criticize the Church were “friends, cousins, and relatives of the devil.”
Pope Francis made the remark after survivors of alleged sexual abuse by clergymen accused him of snubbing an invitation to meet them.
In a Palace briefing Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he believes that the Pope’s remark was not directed at Duterte, who has been criticizing the teachings and misdeeds of the Catholic Church.
“One of the better critics of the Church is the Pope himself. He criticizes the members of the Church who are engaged in what he perceives to be immorality which is outside the teachings of Christ or internal discipline of the Church,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
“If I agree with that then the Pope will be referring to himself also because he is a critic,” he added, noting that the Pope’s statement could be just a “hyperbole.”
The Palace official also said that Duterte cannot be considered evil because he was expressing his “concern and opposition” to the alleged wrongdoings of the members of the clergy.
“It doesn’t also mean that when you criticize, you are evil. You’re just expressing concern and opposition to certain irregular behavior,” Panelo said.
“When you criticize, you cannot be evil,” he added.
Duterte draws the ire of the public often for his remarks mocking and questioning the beliefs of the Catholic Church, the dominant religion in the Philippines. He is also widely criticized for calling God stupid and questioning the Christian Doctrine of Trinity. /ee
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