UPDATE Philippines’ Duterte launches vulgar attacks on Church

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DAVAO, Philippines: Explosive incoming Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has launched a series of obscenity-filled attacks on the Catholic Church, branding local bishops corrupt “sons of whores” who are to be blamed for the nation’s fast-growing population.

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Duterte also warned the Church, which has a centuries-old tradition of influencing Philippine politics, that his landslide election win this month showed he had more power than its leaders and would defy them by dramatically expanding family planning.

“Don’t fuck with me,” Duterte told senior church figures who had criticized him, delivering his message via reporters at a press conference in his hometown of Davao on Monday night.

He defied conventional political wisdom with his huge win in the presidential elections, after an incendiary campaign that saw his popularity surge on threats to kill tens of thousands of criminals and vulgar tirades against establishment figures.

Duterte last year called Pope Francis a “son of a whore” for causing traffic jams when he visited Manila, a bold tactic in a nation where 80 percent of the population is Catholic.

Just before the election, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines released a letter advising Filipinos not to vote for a “morally reprehensible” candidate.

The letter did not name Duterte, but it was widely assumed to have been directed at him. Duterte indeed this week said he was the target.

“It is time to be clear between us. You have been castigating me, criticizing me,” he said at a press conference on Sunday in his first post-election tirade against Church leaders.

Duterte then described Filipino bishops as “sons of whores,” as he accused them of being corrupt hypocrites and vowed to expose their “sins.”

Battle lines

Duterte, who admits to serial Viagra-fueled adultery against his current partner after having his first marriage annulled, also blamed the Church for the nation’s rapid population growth.

The Church has opposed the government giving out contraceptives and teaching family planning.

While a law was passed in 2012 allowing the government to provide contraceptives, church lobbying helped influence politicians to cut funding for the program.

Duterte vowed to dramatically expand the program after he takes office on June 30, stating he wanted families to have a maximum of three children.

He has four children to two mothers.

Duterte has also set himself up for a confrontation with the Church on another key front, promising to bring back the death penalty.

The Church will not back down against Duterte on such core issues, one of its leaders, retired archbishop Oscar Cruz, said on Tuesday.

“We won’t be quiet… the Church will preach what it thinks is right,” Cruz said on dzBB radio.

Cruz said the Church leaders would be willing to talk with Duterte.

“The only difficulty is one of the parties is automatically antagonistic against the other. How can you have dialogue fairly and squarely with such an ambience,” Cruz said in another interview on ABS-CBN television.

The Catholic Church has been a central figure in some of the Philippines’ most tumultuous political events of recent times.

The then-Manila archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Sin, was one of the leading figures in the 1986 “People Power” revolution that overthrew dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

However the Church has lost power as society has become more secular, and Duterte’s tirades against bishops are likely to get a lot of support, according to Antonio Contreras, a political science professor at De la Salle University in Manila.

“A lot of ordinary people say it is about time you have to engage (challenge) the Church and its hypocrisy,” Contreras told Agence France-Presse, adding this was the first time an incoming president had challenged the nation’s religious elite so forcefully. “This is going to be an interesting episode. Whether the church will use its muscle, we will see what happens.” AFP

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3 Comments

  1. David Michael Meyer on

    The catholic church has by its position on pedophile priests.on woman in the priesthood; on divorce ..Has become more n more “aloof” from the feelings of modern society ..The attitude of contraception .is ludicrous; when it comes to parents living in poverty …The church has to be more aware of the plight of the people it is supposed to minister too ..Many people are living in misery because of adhering to the dogma of the church …

    Dr David M Meyer (PhD Psych)

  2. I do not think people power 1 succeeded because of Catholic intervention. It succeeded because the military ,, Enrile , Ramos and company, turned against their master Marcos. These 2 has sinister motives too. That is why there were a lot of coup attempts. Catholics does not have the power but politicians are afraid of them. They cannot be considered as pressure groups. Who believes on Oscar Cruz ? I really think he is a jerk. CBCP is a group that thinks they are influential but they do not influence Catholics. Catholics themselves cannot be relied on . Look at the assassins, pedofiles, drug pushers, adulterers, prostitutes, I will bet you most if not all of them are Catholics.if their master the priests do a lot of bad things, how can your followers be doing the right things.

  3. Catholic church will lose. Duterte, a foul mouth president elect, will destroy them with data showing corruption in the Catholic church. The church in many occasions interferes with the government effort to curb population growth which is the primary culprit in this nation poverty. Funding for family planning even tho approved by congress was cut. Weakling Pnoy is so scare with the Catholics that he let these cut be made.