MANILA - Priests and laymen are puzzled and at a loss over President Rodrigo Duterte's continuing tirades against the Catholic Church, an official of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Wednesday.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP's Public Affairs Committee, suspects Duterte's harsh words against the church was triggered by some of the clergy members' criticisms against the President over various issues.
"We are trying to comprehend why the President hates the church... Personally, maybe because in the past there were churchmen who criticized him. Perhaps he has not forgotten it yet that's why he continues to do the attack," he told ANC.
Duterte has repeatedly criticized the church for its supposed hypocrisy. In a recent speech before Filipinos in South Korea, he even lambasted the concept of "original sin" while promoting a book that supposedly exposes corruption in the Catholic church.
For Fr. Secillano, attacking the core teachings of the church is already foul. He said the church is always open to any dialogue with the President to resolve any of the issues he has against the Catholic community.
Asked if priests should speak up to defend the church and to address other issues hounding the society, he said: "We should speak out. Priests should speak out. But there are prudent ways to speak about the truth."
"Hindi namin puwedeng tanggalin dito, na kami ay papayag sa violence at saka doon sa patayan," he added. "The church is not tired (of speaking up). The church is just being prudent... We have to very prudent in our matter of speaking."