MANILA - The head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Friday urged Catholics to "love and protect your faith" days after President Rodrigo Duterte questioned the story of creation and called God "stupid."
CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles did not mention names but said that recent "remarks about our faith to God and teachings of the Bible" brought "confusion, sadness, and anger" among the faithful.
"My brothers/sisters, love and protect your faith. This is what makes us closer to the Church," Valles said in a statement.
"Don't forget that you have experienced how wonderful, valuable, powerful our faith is - our relationship with God, Virgin Mary, and the Church," he said.
Valles also asked Catholics to "remain steadfast in faith" and to "reflect on our long-held beliefs."
"Let peace rule in our hearts in spite of it all. If we have this in our hearts, we will love and respect others," he said.
Duterte drew criticism from several Catholic bishops and other Christian groups after he called God "stupid” as he spoke about the creation story in the Bible last week.
On Thursday he said he will not apologize for his controversial statement.
"No, I will not do that, definitely. Not in a million years," Duterte told reporters in Panglao, Bohol.
"You know, God is personal. It is not formed by textbooks. You nurture God as your faith based on the values that you get from life early on from your parents."
Valles was named CBCP president in July 2017, succeeding Lingayen, Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. The archbishop is known to be close to the family of President Duterte, a long-time Davao City Mayor.
In March, Valles baptized Duterte's youngest grandson Marko Digong Carpio, nicknamed Stonefish.