PRESIDENT-IN-WAITING Rodrigo Duterte turned up the heat on the Catholic Church Monday, warning Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, who criticized him: “Don’t f--- with me, Cruz. I am no longer a member of the Catholic Church. I am a member of the Church of Duterte.”
In a press conference Monday night, Duterte pressed a hot-button issue for the Church, which opposes any form of artificial birth control.
“I am reinstalling the population control program [that will promote] three children only for every family,” Duterte said. “We will promote birth control. People simply can’t follow the natural method; it’s biological.”
Earlier, Cruz challenged Duterte to reveal the names of prelates that he accused of committing grave abuses, and urged him to fight these people, not the Catholic Church.
“There are so many churchmen who have behaved miserably but the Church still stands so... there is a big difference between churchmen and the Church.. If he is going to be angry let him be angry at Church people and not the Church per se because it is useless. He will die and the Church will still be there,” Cruz said.
Cruz also turned down Duterte’s challenge to debate the bishops, saying this would be stooping too low.
“He can just reveal who they [the erring churchmen] are, and what they have done and where the proof can be taken. The Church has its own internal mechanism, to [deal with] errancy,” he said.
Churchmen are human and are sinners, Cruz said.
“They are not saints and consequently and some of us really betray our commitment,” he said, just like there was one Judas among the 12 apostles.
On Monday, Duterte said the Catholic Church is the most “hypocritical institution.”
In a press conference, Duterte vowed that no religious groups, campaign contributors or friends would affect his decisions in government.
Duterte lashed out at the Catholic Church for campaigning against him days before the May 9 elections, despite its “long history of wrongdoing.”
Describing his landslide win as a “public referendum” between him and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, which released a pastoral letter urging Catholics not to vote for him, Duterte challenged Catholic prelates to a debate so that he can expose the alleged “sins of the Church” before assuming office on June 30.
“They campaigned against me, everybody was saying ‘Do not vote for Duterte.’ Fine. I said, let this election be a referendum between me and the Catholic Church... Look, were you able to stop me?”
“You have been castigating me or criticizing me—you want a debate before I become president? Okay! Let all the bishops rise. I will tell you the sins of the Catholic Church beginning from the time the institution of the papacy was established,” he continued.
“I will lecture until June 29 [about] the sins of the Catholic Church, and whether or not you are still relevant. The most hypocritical institution is the Catholic Church,” Duterte said.
On Monday, he said he would defy the Church opposition to family planning by promoting a three-child policy.
Meanwhile, the Christian evangelist Apollo C. Quiboloy said Monday he is not using his ties with Duterte to gain special favors.
His camp, however, said that some people who consulted the pastor questioned the appointment of some members in the Duterte Cabinet, particularly those with “conflicts of interest.”
“I will always remain a friend but if it blocks the national interest of the country, I will move myself away so I cannot be a blockade to the national interest that the mayor sees himself right now—not only as a mayor but as the leader of this nation,” Quiboloy said at the headquarters of his Kingdom of Jesus Christ church in Catiptipan, Davao City.
“Whatever misunderstanding or controversy you heard, sometimes it’s just misinterpreted into small things. My friendship with Duterte will continue and the Kingdom Ministries will continue to pray for his continued success as our next president,” he added.
On Sunday, Duterte expressed his willingness to cut ties with anyone who tries to control his decisions as he brushed off Quiboloy’s complaints that he was being shut out of the discussions on who should serve in his new Cabinet.
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