The president of the Philippines has stepped up his conflict with the country’s bishops, daring them to resign.
At a meeting with the bereaved families of police officers, Rodrigo Duterte said: “I challenge all [in] the bishops’ conference. Let’s resign tomorrow, all together, OK? Resign. I will do it first. I will deliver my letter of resignation, you wait.”
Mr Duterte, who was elected last year, has clashed repeatedly with the country’s bishops, especially over his support for the death penalty and support of extrajudicial killings of criminals. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the bishops’ conference, said the country was being damaged by “twisted, upside-down values”, and “cuss words, orchestrated lies and vulgarity never heard before”.
The president often uses crude language to attack the Church. He defended his style in his speech, saying: “What’s wrong with that? It was easy for them [the priests] to call the politician corrupt. How about you? Some are afraid because of politics. You are a son of a bitch.”
He also said: “I challenge you now. I challenge the Catholic Church. You are full of s—. You all smell bad, corruption and all.”
Mr Duterte has targeted drug dealers since coming to office. There are reports that 8,000 have been killed by police or vigilantes since last year, and 38,000 imprisoned. Mr Duterte has admitted carrying out extra-judicial killings. The president has also frequently denounced the country’s bishops as corrupt, and has launched a drive to distribute contraceptives.
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection