A number of Church leaders have asked the Catholic faithful to pray for President Rodrigo Duterte despite the history of the chief executive hurling expletives against them.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said in an interview on New Year’s Eve December 31 that despite Duterte’s “unpleasant remarks” about the church, some of its members prayed for him and supported some of his administration’s policies, SunStar reported.
“He made some unpleasant remarks. In music, there’s a person who sings out of tune. Applaud him and he would think he is singing well because he was applauded. Just listen but don’t applaud if he is out of tune. Above all, we pray for him,” Palma said.
“I do believe the grace of God will touch him and also all of us. For us, we cooperate and support in his good projects, especially drug rehabilitation,” he added.
A similar suggestion was made by Quiapo Church Rector Hernando Coronel at a recent media briefing for the coming traslacion of the Black Nazarene on January 9.
“Part of the Christian faith is to pray for the leaders of our country, the leaders in our society, including our President, everyone who serves in our government,” the prelate said when asked about Duterte’s recent comments before the new year in which he called the Catholic Church’s doctrine on the Holy Trinity “silly.”
“You pray to one God. You cannot divide God into three. That’s silly,” the president previously said during a speech in Kidapawan City on December 29.
Some members of the Catholic Church called out Duterte as 2019 opened. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas in an open letter to a godson that made rounds on social media warned that those who called God “stupid” and told people to skip mass as being “anti-Christ.”
“My first advice to you is pray constantly and go to mass as frequently as you can, if possible even daily. Do not listen to him who tells you it is useless to go to Church and attend mass. Whoever teaches you that is anti-Christ and there are many of them, including those who look at it as a joke,” Villegas wrote in the letter.
The president drew flak from the Catholic Church for asking “Who is this stupid God?” while criticizing the biblical creation story in June 2018.
He later warned Catholics in November 2018 against going to mass and called the Catholic Church a “hypocritical institution.”
Heated exchange continues
Duterte, a non-practicing Catholic, launched a series of tirades against the church in 2018.
There were signs of hope that Duterte and the Catholic leadership would reconcile after the controversy over his “stupid God” statement after he apologized and met with religious leaders but he resumed exchanging heated words later that year.
In July 2018, he questioned the need for donations to the Catholic church.
In November that year, he warned Catholics against attending church after he was called “sick” by Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, whom he previously suspected of stealing church donations and using narcotics.