25 May 2016

Mayor Duterte Blasted The "Hypocritical Catholic Church"

The Defiant Duterte
For centuries, the Catholic Church has wielded their powers unchecked in the Philippines. Their influence has grown through the years that they have the tenacity to meddle in public policy despite the separation of Church and State.

It is now time to curb that power and one man has stepped up willingly to take on the cudgels of responsibility: the presumptive Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

The former mayor has blasted the country’s dominant Roman Catholic church as "the most hypocritical institution" and accused some of its bishops of corruption for allegedly asking favors from politicians, including him.

In a late-night news conference that dragged on to the early hours last 22 May in southern Davao city, Duterte questioned the relevance of Catholic bishops, citing his overwhelming victory in the 9 May 2016 presidential election based on an unofficial count despite efforts by them to persuade Filipinos not to vote for him.

Such harsh public condemnation of the influential church and its bishops by a top politician is rare in the Philippines, Asia’s bastion of Catholicism. It presages a potentially thorny relationship between the Catholic church and the incoming president, who shocked bishops in November when he cursed Pope Francis for sparking a huge traffic jam that trapped him for hours during a visit to Manila.

Duterte apologized after bishops denounced his action.

During the campaign, Duterte said he warned Catholics they may go to hell if they voted for him because bishops have criticized him as immoral partly for advocating the killing of criminals. Millions of Filipinos, however, still voted for him in the election, which he said served like a referendum.

"Look, were you able to stop me?" Duterte asked, citing his lead of more than 6 million votes over his closest rival.

The foul-mouthed mayor then turned to the bishops, accusing some of them of violating their vow of celibacy by getting married or keeping women and seeking favors like cars from politicians. Once, he said without elaborating, church officials whom he did not identify forced him to take steps as a mayor so they could obtain a real estate property in a residential enclave.

Those acts amounted to corruption and violated the Philippine constitutional edict of separation of church and state, according to the brash Duterte, who is known for his vulgarity, sex jokes and devil-may-care irreverence.

"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 goddamn people," Duterte said. "Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves, you sons of bitches?"

"You know," Duterte said, "the most hypocritical institution is the Catholic church."

If the press conference is any indication of what lies ahead. then the Filipino people is in for an exciting, empowering and enlightening six years. Too bad the same thing cannot be said about the Catholic Church.