Philippine President-Elect Bashes Catholic Church

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  May 23, 2016   

Rodrigo Duterte: "The most hypocritical institution is the Catholic Church"

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MANILA ( - The soon-to-be president of the Catholic Philippines is trashing the Catholic Church and Her bishops.

Rodrigo Duterte, elected May 9 as president of the predominantly Catholic Philippines, spoke vulgarly of the country's bishops in a news conference Saturday. "Some people here in the Philippines can't even afford to have food to eat or get medicine while you're enjoying the money of the [expletive] people. Aren't you ashamed of yourselves, you [expletive]? You know, the most hypocritical institution is the Catholic Church."

Duterte, current mayor of Davao City, who will be inaugurated as president June 30, is upset with the bishops for telling the people not to vote for him. After beating his closest rival by a landslide margin of six million votes, Duterte taunted the bishops with the remark, "Look, were you able to stop me?"

As reported, the self-professed dictator cursed Pope Francis back in November, calling him "a son of a whore." Duterte later apologized after the bishops publicly condemned this incident.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, last December rebuked Duterte for the papal slur. "When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laughs, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame."

Nicknamed "The Punisher," Duterte admits to using vigilante death squads to execute criminals in Davao City, where he was mayor for 20 years, and is making good on his threat last December when he promised,

I will destroy the Church and the present status of so many priests and what they are doing. You priests, bishops, you condemn me and suggest I withdraw, but then I will start to open my mouth. There are so many secrets that we kept as children. Do not force (me to speak) because this religion is not so sacred.

Now he is accusing bishops of violating their vow of celibacy with women, and seeking favors, like cars and property, from politicians. He's claiming that this corruption is a violation of the country's constitutional edict defining separation of church and state.

As mayor, Duterte continues his vow to kill criminals. His public vulgarities extended to joking last month about wishing he had been first in line to rape an Australian missionary who died in 1989 while sexually assaulted in a prison riot in the Philippines. He also speaks openly of his adulterous relationships.

Referring last year to Duterte's public support, Abp. Villegas recalled that killing people, adultery and vulgarity were all forms of corruption. "My countrymen have gone to the dregs," the archbishop had lamented.

A former Catholic, Duterte claims to believe in God but not religion, and is questioning openly whether the Catholic Church is still relevant in modern society. He has also vowed to make contraception more widely available in the Philippines, a move directly opposed to Church teaching.

The president-elect is saying he'll continue to publicly disclose "the sins of the Catholic Church" until next month when he's inaugurated as president. After that he promises to be more circumspect.


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