After calling the “Catholic God” stupid, Duterte forms committee to talk with Roman Catholic bishops

By Rodolfo Andal

(File Photo) PH President Rodrigo Duterte

AFTER saying that God is stupid, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he is willing to engage the different religious leaders in the country and the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in a dialogue to reduce tension between his administration and the Church.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. told reporters in a press briefing the President ordered the formation of a three-man committee to oversee the conduct of a dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups.

Roque revealed that aside from him, the other members of the committee will be Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, and Pastor “Boy” Saycon. He added the agenda would be defined by both parties once the dialogue commences.

(File photo) Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Ang tema ng mga pag-uusap ay paano mabawasan ‘yung hidwaan ng gobyerno at simbahan,” the Spokesperson stressed, adding “tingnan natin kung paano mapapabuti ang samahan dahil iisang lipunan lang naman po ang pinaglilingkuran ng gobyerno at ng simbahan.

Roque said the President’s decision came after calls were made by different church groups, including the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEP), for the government to hold talks with them.

The Cabinet official said he would be reaching out to the PCEP soon to inform them of the formation of the committee.

Furthermore, Pastor Saycon was asked to contact the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to notify them of the government’s commitment to open a dialogue.

“Rest assured that whatever I get from the churches, I will relay to the President,” Roque stressed.

Meanwhile, Roque defended anew President Duterte’s remarks about the Church, stressing that even the Chief Executive is entitled to his own religious freedom.

“No one can question a person’s faith, lack of faith, or his own interpretation of the god that he believes in. ‘Yan po ay karapatan ng lahat. Pati po ang Presidente, may ganyang karapatan,” Roque said.

Paulit-ulit namang sinasabi ng Presidente na nirerespeto niya ang kalayaan ng malayang pananalita at malayang pag-iisip. So tanggapin po natin ang mga sinasabi ng Presidente within the context of these freedoms,” he added.

Duterte, on Friday, said God is stupid because he led Adam and Eve to sin by placing the tree of knowledge of good and evil in paradise. He also spoke negatively about the idea of all of us having original sin calling it a very “stupid proposition.”

“Who is this stupid God? He’s really stupid. Your created something perfect, and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work,” Duterte noted.

In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were thrown out of paradise after consuming the forbidden fruit.

Despite the subsequent public outcry in the predominantly Catholic country, Duterte, who was raised Catholic, on Monday added fuel to fire by defending his “God is stupid” statement.

He said that he was criticizing only the God that his critics believe in, not his personal god.

“What I said was your God is not my god, because your God is stupid. Mine has a lot of common sense,” Duterte said, adding that the creation of Eve was God’s “greatest mistake.”

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Meanwhile, according to the Catholic News Agency:

The CBCP said they were willing to meet with Duterte to discuss various issues and to rebuild the relationship between the Church and the government.

Davao Archbishop and CBCP President Romulo Valles

CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles said on a Catholic radio station in the Philippines that the invitation was a “most welcome development,” and that “to dialogue is to listen to one another, and is always good.”

Valles and Duterte have been friendly in the past, according to Filipino media.

Other bishops in the country aren’t so sure that Duterte is genuine in his desire for a dialogue. Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the auxiliary bishop of Manila, told ABS-CBN News that the call for a dialogue was “just his way of diffusing the criticisms against him.”

The Philippines is about 80 percent Catholic, and an additional 10 percent of the population is Protestant.

Duterte has been openly hostile to the Catholic Church since he came to power in July of 2016. Shortly before taking office, he referred to the country’s bishops as “sons of wh-res.”

He has been accused of “social cleansing” for his bloody war on drugs in the country. The country’s bishops offered to provide sanctuary for any whistle blowers in the Philippine police department who spoke out against various human rights abuses.

In response, Duterte said the Church was “full of sh-t.”


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