Clergy not cowed by Duterte's attacks

Jing Castaneda, ABS-CBN News

Duterte urged to focus on more important problems than fighting Catholic church

DAGUPAN - At the Episcopal ordination of the Most Reverend Enrique Macaraeg, the new bishop of Tarlac, the attacks hurled by incoming President Rodrigo Duterte against the Catholic Church was one of the favorite topics among the priests and bishops who attended.

Some members of the clergy said they were hurt and dismayed by Duterte's statements.

But they maintained that despite Duterte's public condemnation, the Catholic Church will continue to be faithful to her role as the moral compass of her flock, and will continue to be vocal in criticizing the government and its leaders if necessary.

Archbishop Marlo Peralta of the archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, Ilocos Sur said they were hurt but will go beyond it and will continue to be faithful to their mission of faith.

Fr. Oliver Mendoza, rector of the Mary Help of Christians Theological Seminary, said Duterte should instead focus his attention on the other more important problems in the country and not waste his energy.

But the men of the cloth are united in saying that a dialogue is vital to clarify any misunderstandings between the two camps.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBPC) has assured the winners of the 2016 elections of vigilant collaboration.

Macaraeg said he was surprised with Duterte's attacks but added that the Church is open to dialogues and vigilant collaboration.

But the bishops admit that some of their peers may be guilty of wrongdoing.

The church leaders said Duterte should produce evidence against erring clergy so they can be investigated and prosecuted.


Duterte earlier launched a series of obscenity-filled attacks on the Catholic Church, branding local bishops corrupt "sons of whores" who are to be blamed for the nation's fast-growing population.

The tough-talking mayor, who said that he has is no longer a Catholic, accused the Church of not doing the Filipino people any good by only supporting natural family planning methods.

Duterte also lashed out at bishops who criticized him for his alleged immorality and campaigned against him in the recent elections.

READ: CBCP to voters: 'Reject morally reprehensible bet'

“Ang hindi kasi nakuha ng Simbahan, napaka-bobo naman kasi itong Katoliko. Tapos ngayon, nagsabi pa, hindi daw sila nagkampanya. Eh ‘yung tatlong bishop na nagsalita against me?” said Duterte.

READ: Duterte: Join the 'Iglesia ni Duterte' 

Duterte singled out Oscar Cruz, the retired archbishop of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.

“Bobolahin mo pa mga Pilipino! Hoy, Oscar! Oca, 'wag mong bolahin ang mga Pilipino. Nakakahiya ka!” Duterte said.

“Do not f*** with me, Cruz! Iparinig mo sa kanya 'yan!” he added.

Cruz, in an interview with ANC Tuesday, said there was supposed to be a meeting of all presidential candidates with Church leaders. Duterte, however, did not come.

"If one party doesn't behave as he should, dialogue is useless," he said. "I have no problems with both parties sitting down to understand one another, but one party has already antagonized the other."

He added that a fast, working judicial system is better than the death penalty.

"The Church will not allow its teaching to be depleted by a falsity of any kind," Cruz said.

On Duterte's criticism that the Catholic Church is to be blamed for the nation's fast-growing population, Cruz said responsible family planning is also a teaching of the Church.

"The Church has always called on parents to be responsible," he said. - with reports from ANC, Agence France-Presse