CBCP exec: Will fresh dialogue stop Duterte's attacks vs bishops?

Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2019 07:24 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to CBCP president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles in Malacañang, July 2018. Malacañang photo 

MANILA - Will another dialogue between Catholic bishops and President Rodrigo Duterte finally put an end to the worsening word war between the two camps?

An official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had this question amid talk of another discussion between Church leaders and the firebrand leader. 

Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of CBCP's Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, said there is still no guarantee that Duterte will stop hurling attacks against the clergy even if they agree to hold another meeting. 

"Can that dialogue stop the president from hurling invectives, threats and insults to the Catholic Church? It may appear to be a noble initiative but the last time it happened, nothing of what was expected came out of it," Secillano said in an interview with Radio Veritas on Thursday. 

The priest added that instead of focusing on his tirades against the prelates, the government should direct their efforts in addressing more pressing matters concerning the people. 

"He should pay more attention responding to the pressing needs of the people so that he can prove his critics wrong. And that’s nobler than simply talking to his perceived adversaries," Secillano said. 

The CBCP official added that picking a fight with Church officials is a waste of time and is not beneficial to anyone. 

"He is simply wasting his political capital quarreling with the Church," Secillano said. 

It was in July 2018 when the President held a one-on-one meeting with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the CBCP and a friend of the Duterte family. 

Following the meeting, Malacañang said Duterte promised to stop issuing statements about the Church. 

Despite this, the President continued hurling criticism, expletives, and threats against the Church hierarchy, even questioning Christian doctrines such as the Holy Trinity and Jesus Christ's crucifixion. 

The Palace, meanwhile, insisted that the president was merely joking, while calling out the bishops for meddling in the affairs of the state.