PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has again trained his guns on the Catholic Church, calling on it to reform or perish, and blasting the sacrament of confession.
“Why do you have to go to confession and whisper your sins to an idiot when you can always go directly to God and say ‘I’m sorry’? Why do you have to whisper into the ear of another human being? It’s crazy,” Duterte told the Moscow-based news channel Russia Today (RT) in an interview published on Monday.
Duterte, who is at odds with the Church because of its opposition to his war on drugs, said the 2,000-year-old institution “will launder in the next 10 years.”
“[The] Catholic Church in the Philippines must reform. Do not wait for the day when religion becomes irrelevant in the lives of people,” he said.
Duterte said only Mexicans and Filipinos frequented church when he was in the US with his partner, Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, who worked as a nurse in the US in the early 2000s.
“Confessing your sins to another when you can go directly to God and say ‘Lord, I’m sorry for my sins.’ I am not that religious, but I still believe in God. That there is somebody there—more than what we can, human beings, are capable of,” he said.
The Church teaches that Christians need to confess their sins to a priest to obtain absolution, as commanded by Christ himself. In the Book of John, Christ tells his apostles: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”RT asked the President about the supposed molestation he had experienced as a young boy at the hands of a priest.
“I said this because of the penchant to keep silent. The abuses of the priests had been filmed everywhere. There was an Italian underground film—I’m sure you saw that—priests were running naked there. And they don’t really bother to investigate. There is no condemnation. Nothing,” Duterte said.
“They show the priests and the religious people doing shenanigans, but it is seen just as part of the show of the night. Is it liberality? Is it because you don’t want to condemn your own countrymen? Or is it because the victims were just natives? Never mind about them. We were considered natives. And sometimes pictured as apes,” he added.
Duterte then encouraged everyone anew to read “Altar of Secrets,” the 2013 book by the late journalist Aries Rufo that revealed corruption, sexual abuses and other controversies that had rocked the Catholic Church in the Philippines.
“By the way, I believe in God. I really believe in God, I put my destiny in the hands of God. But priests? You read the book,” the President said.