President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Proclamation No. 124 “Declaring the Month of January of Every Year as National Bible Month Culminating in the Last Week Thereof as National Bible Week.”
Signed on Jan. 5, 2017, the Proclamation said, “the state recognizes the religious nature of the Filipino people and the elevating influence of religion in human society.”
While maintaining neutrality in its treatment of all religious communities, the government is not precluded from pursuing valid objectives secular in character even if it would have an incidental result affecting a particular religion or sect, the Proclamation read.
The 1987 Constitution calls on the government to support efforts to strengthen the ethical and spiritual values and to develop the moral character of the Filipino people, it said.
History bears witness to the profound impact of the Bible on the life of nations, and to how it has moved and inspired many people, including statesmen and social reformers to work for the betterment of their fellow human beings even at great cost to themselves, the Proclamation read.
It is fitting and proper, for the molding of the spiritual, moral and social fiber of our citizenry, that national attention be focused on the importance of reading and studying the Bible, it also read.
In November 2015, Duterte called Pope Francis his favorite insult—a “son of a whore”—for apparently exacerbating Manila’s already chronic traffic during an official visit. He then announced he wished to visit the Vatican to personally apologize to the Catholic Church leader.
“The mayor repeatedly said he wants to visit the Vatican, win or lose, not only to pay homage to the Pope but he really needs to explain to the Pope and ask for forgiveness,”his then spokesman, Peter Lavina, told the media. Duterte also apologized to the Pope via a letter; the Vatican responded by offering the “assurance of prayers” during his campaign.
Earlier, the leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) aired his side amid the scathing remarks made by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte against the dominant Catholic Church.
In his message titled “Understanding Silence,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and CBCP President Socrates Villegas highlighted the value of silence amid the tirades launched by Duterte.
“There is virtue in silence. There is virtue in speech. Wisdom is knowing when it is time for silence and when is the timing for speech,” Villegas was quoted in a CBCP News report.
“Mine is the silence of Jesus before the arrogance of Pilate…Mine is the language of peace that refuses the dark magic of revenge. Mine is the silence of respect for those who consider us their enemies but whose good we truly pray for and whose happiness we want to see unfold,” he added.
“You can understand my speech if you speak the language of silence. You can understand my silence if you know how to love like Him who was born one silent night,” the prelate said.
Duterte has been relentless in his criticisms of the Catholic Church, branding it as the “most hypocritical institution.”
Duterte vowed to expose the alleged Church abuses during his six-year term.