‘Pray more for the President,’ says bishop amid Duterte’s attack anew
“WE are ‘no strangers to ridicule and persecution’ and ours is nothing compared to the sufferings and ordeals of the poor in our country. However, if such attitude of the President continues, it is the poor he vowed to help that will continue to suffer all the more. Hence, we really have to double our prayers for him.”
This is the statement of Diocese of San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza following the latest attack of President Rodrigo Duterte against the Catholic Church.
In his speech at the Palace’s Heroes Hall on Wednesday, Duterte said it would be better to kill bishops who are “useless” and doing nothing but to
criticize the administration.
For Alminaza, it is obvious that the President has a deep hurt which from his perspective is caused by the Catholic Church.
The wound which may have come from several factors is far from being healed. This adversarial relationship is far from over, he said.
“I pray all the more for our President,” the Negrense bishop said, adding that “I continue doing what I am supposed to do such as reaching out, dialoguing, and collaborating with various government agencies and groups on the ground to realize our shared mission and goals for the sake of the common good especially for our poorest sectors.”
The local church leader said among these endeavors included strengthening marriages and family ties, making education accessible to those in the peripheries particularly the indigenous people, helping agrarian reform beneficiaries, offering a community-based rehabilitation program for drug addicts, assisting in the disaster and risk reduction management, and advocating for environmental protection, among others.
Alminaza, though, expressed worries on the effects of “this repeated conditioning of minds” that according to him undermines the sanctity of human life and human dignity.
It also creates a culture of death, a climate of utter disregard for human rights, non-observance of due process, and adherence to the pragmatic principle that the end justifies the means, he added.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo clarified that Duterte was not threatening the Catholic bishops when he declared that they were better off dead, but was merely being “dramatic” in his statements.
“I think that’s only a hyperbole on the part of the President. We should be getting used to this President. He makes certain statements for dramatic effect. But he actually means, ‘Stop criticizing and do some good for this country. Help us,’”
Panelo said the President was merely “upset” that the Church leaders are critical of his administration’s policies.*