Cebu bishop hails Duterte call to ‘lay off’ Catholic church leaders
CEBU CITY — Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma has welcomed President Duterte’s recent call not to harm Catholic Church leaders.
“I’m happy over one person who tries to change in that sense. I hope and pray that there is always a room for improvement,” he said in an interview on Saturday.
“Instead of developing animosity or finding ways of disagreement, we must find ways to collaborate and work together for the good of the community,” he added.
President Duterte earlier warned against killing religious leaders, saying his fight with the Catholic Church was “personal.”
His recent statement was contrary to his December 2018 remark urging people to kill bishops.
Mr. Duterte said he received a text message from a cardinal who was in Rome at that time for the Vatican summit sexual abuse stating that Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and other priests had received death threats.
The President then warned those who would harm priests and nuns: “Do not try to do it. The religious has nothing to do with the vagaries of life.
“Lay off … Once you touch a nun and priest or imam … Don’t harm them because they are religious people. If you touch them, we will have to fight. They are not included [in our war on drugs],” he added.
Palma said it would be better if President Duterte stopped threatening priests and bishops as some people may use it to destroy his administration.
“It could be done by someone who is not with Duterte. Any threats against any bishops do not necessarily come from the President,” the 68-year-old archbishop said.
“I believe it’s a product of some kind of a change. I also believe that that is the direction he has to take especially now that the elections are coming. It may not help if he finds more enemies.”
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