MANILA No matter how many verbal attacks President Rodrigo R. Duterte hurls against the Catholic Church, bishops and priests living in luxury, clergymen should not react if they're not being alluded to, MalacaAang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark after Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in an open letter to his godson published on his Facebook account, reminded him to respect the Pope, bishops, and priests.
Villegas did not mention names, but tackled issues related to the President's strong criticism of the Catholic Church and its members.
Villegas, former president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), also said that he is not worried about criticism against the Church because despite crooked acts done by some of its members, the institution has lasted for 2,000 years.
If they are affected by the criticism or hypocrisy of certain members, if they are not alluded to, then why should they be reacting? Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
He said he does not buy Villegas' statement that bishops are not worried about criticisms, noting that they continued to make negative comments against the President.
According to Bishop Socrates, it does not affect the Church. So anong problema doon (what's the problem there)? If it does not affect the Church, eh di wala. Kahit na anong word war na gamitin mo diyan, parang (then they should not react. Whatever word war is waged against them, it's like) they're just engaged in polemics, Panelo said.
With more reason, they should not be concerned, alarmed, or angry at any tirade against the Church because as he correctly says, it's been there for a thousand years. It's entrenched, so di maapektuhan (they won't be affected), he added.
Panelo reiterated that the President cannot be stopped from speaking his mind on any particular matter that to his mind is important, the same way bishops do.
He, meanwhile, urged clergymen to stick to their job of spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ to the Catholic faithful and leave the government to do its own job.
Ang sinasabi lang namin if you are men of the cloth, ang talagang trabaho mo ay spiritual awakening sa faithful (What we're saying is, if you are men of cloth, your job is the spiritual awakening of the faithful), Panelo said.
Huwag mo nang pakialaman ang estado with respect doon sa mga methods na ginagawa ng estado na sa kabutihan naman ng bayan(Don't interfere with the state with respect to its methods, which are for the good of its citizens), he added.
Villegas, in the same post, also expressed concern for Duterte's tirades against the Church being harmful to his health and stature.
Panelo, however, said that if Villegas is concerned for the President's well-being, he should be praying for Duterte instead of making negative remarks against him.
If he's worried then he should pray for the President. Maybe he should help the President. Then he should do something positive rather than attack the administration, he said.
Asked if the Palace is concerned that more bishops are speaking out against the President, Panelo said this is just part of freedom of expression.
Villegas is the third bishop to call the President out for his negative remarks against the Church. The other two are Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani Jr. and Balanga, Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency