A Catholic priest who has been on the receiving end of President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades is turning the other cheek when it comes to the President's latest rant to "kill useless bishops."
In a Facebook post, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David quoted the Bible in reaction to Duterte's statement that Catholic bishops are better off dead.
"Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts... You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. But the gospel must first be preached to all nations. When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved," he said, quoting Mark 13:9-13.
David, a vocal critic of the President, said Catholic bishops have faced quite a lot of persecutions in the past 2,000 years of Church history.
He also quoted Luke 6:27-36 as his response to Duterte's latest tirade.
"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic...Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same... But rather, love your enemies and do good to them... then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.”
The President has recently stepped up his verbal attacks against Catholic prelates, especially against Bishop David, one of his most ardent critics.
In his speech Wednesday, Duterte again lashed out at Catholic bishops, saying: "Itong mga obispo ninyo, patayin ninyo. Walang silbi iyang mga gagong iyan. All they do is criticize."
David has taken Duterte’s criticism in stride, saying the public should just bear with the President because he is “a very sick man.”
Under Duterte, several priests have been killed by unknown assailants, and critics say the alleged climate of impunity under the current administration has emboldened the killers.
Duterte routinely attacks the Church and its teachings. Earlier this year, he drew flak after calling God “stupid.:”
To deal with the public outrage, the Palace formed a team to hold a dialogue with the Catholic Church, but it remains unclear what progress was achieved by the talks.