MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte is just expressing an opinion when he said that Catholicism may cease to exist in about a quarter of a century, Malacañang clarified Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President is not discrediting the Church and is simply providing a "healthy criticism" amid allegations of corruption and sexual abuse hounding the Catholic leadership.
"He's just expressing an opinion. That is his belief, whether it will come about we don't know," Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
"I think that's a healthy criticism. It will help the Catholic Church cleanse itself and purge itself of those not deserving to be there," he added.
Duterte on Monday said the Catholic faith may no longer be around in 25 years due to sexual abuse allegations.
His remarks came as the Vatican concluded a 4-day summit on widespread clerical sexual abuse that has taken the Catholic Church by storm.
Duterte is only referring to certain members of the Church hierarchy when he made criticisms, Panelo said.
"He is just referring to certain men in the cloth that have violated their own vows. Even the Pope has become the number one critic of the Catholic Church," Panelo said.
"He is discrediting certain men of the cloth as so the Pope is doing," he added.