MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday said members of the Catholic clergy angered by tirades of President Rodrigo Duterte against the Church and its doctrines should know better not to fire back.
This, after Balanga, Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos said Duterte's presidency is not only a disappointment but a disgrace to the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Santos’ words were unbecoming of a bishop.
“I think the good bishop is forgetting that Christ has taught us that if someone throws stones at you then throw a piece of bread in return. That is Christian doctrine. It appears the good bishop is not practicing what he teaches and what he has learned from the seminary,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
Duterte has been issuing tirades against the Church for several weeks now, attacking its doctrines and suggesting that bishops should be killed.
Santos issued his statement in reaction to Duterte’s recent attacks against Filipino prelates, where he said "tambays" or bystanders should kill or steal from "rich bishops."
Malacañang has repeatedly defended the President’s violent rhetoric, saying it was just his way of conveying his message. It has also expressed dissatisfaction with priests and bishops “using the pulpit” to criticize the President.
Tense exchanges between Duterte and some prelates have continued despite a July 2018 meeting between the President and his fellow Davaoeño, Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.
Panelo said the President remains open to talks with the Church hierarchy, after Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he was willing to mediate between the two sides.