The Philippine Star
Palace setting up Rody 1-on-1 with CBCP head
Malacañang has agreed to a one-on-one meeting between President Duterte and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles in a bid to patch things up following the Chief Executive’s tirades against the Catholic Church.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr., for his part, is optimistic about the outcome of his meeting with Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia last Friday evening, when he represented the President at the celebration of Pope’s Day at the Papal Nuncio’s residence in Manila.
Valles said that the one-onone meeting between him and Duterte is now being set, but there is no fixed date yet.
“I understand the one-onone is being set. But the schedule has to be fixed first. It is a matter of schedule,” Valles told The STAR.
Roque said his meeting with Caccia focused on how the Duterte administration and
the Catholic hierarchy should work together for the people.
“In my meeting with the Papal Nuncio last night, it was agreed that both State and Church should work for the benefit of the people. It was also agreed that President Duterte will have a one-on-one dialogue with the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,” Roque said.
“The Papal Nuncio also welcomes further meetings with (the President),” said Roque, who is head of the four-man panel tasked to conduct a dialogue with religious leaders following outrage over Duterte’s remarks that God is stupid.
Malacañang officials are also considering the possibility of a separate meeting between Duterte and Caccia.
President Duterte had formed a committee to hold dialogues with the different religious organizations in the country after he was widely criticized for his controversial “stupid God” comment.
Aside from Roque, the committee also includes Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr., Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella and EDSA People Power Commission member Pastor Saycon.
Valles earlier urged the Catholic faithful last Friday to keep and take care of the faith despite the controversies that have lately hounded the religious sector.
“I hope that we remain in the said faith, faith that gives our hearts the peace and joy, faith that is based on the strong belief in Jesus who is always with us,” Valles said in Visayan in his message to the faithful in Davao.
Valles’ message came amid the controversial “stupid God” remarks of Duterte that questioned the Church’s teaching on creation.
Earlier this week, Roque said the Palace is reviewing an executive order issued by former president Corazon Aquino, which established the National Ecumenical Consultative Committee (NECCOM) to ensure that inputs from all religious denominations are relayed to the administration.
Prior to Friday’s meeting, Saycon said the group is hoping to gain understanding, tolerance and forgiveness from the Catholic Church.
Saycon met with CBCP Public Affairs Committee (PAC) executive secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano last Thursday to discuss the possible dialogue between Church leaders and government officials.
At the top of the government’s agenda during the dialogue is to start the healing process between the administration and the Church and to straighten out misunderstanding, Saycon said.
He explained that Duterte is not known to be diplomatic. Instead, he talks rough.
“So since the Church is a forgiving church and God is a forgiving God, these are the things that we will discuss.”
Saycon said Caccia welcomed the President’s reaching out to the Catholic leaders.
Saycon said that the 60-yearold Italian Archbishop Caccia approved the holding of a dialogue between Malacañang officials and the CBCP.
Saycon and Abella attended the Pope’s Day celebration at the Apostolic Nunciature along Taft Avenue last Friday night. Roque arrived late.
Duterte was invited but did not attend the event as he was in Davao.
The Pope’s Day celebration is an annual event at the Apostolic Nunciature that is attended by members of the clergy and some members of the diplomatic corps.
Among those present at the gathering was former Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.
Saycon said that the few of those he spoke to, including the Nuncio, were “very receptive to the initiative of the President to open up the dialogue.”
When asked if the Nuncio made any request, Saycon said, “There was no request. In fact, there are no preconditions. We are very happy and glad that the bishop welcomed the initiative of the President.”
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo yesterday said that the Duterte administration should have initiated the dialogue with the Catholic Church a long time ago.
In his blog, Pabillo said since it was only recently when the Duterte administration announced holding a dialogue with the CBCP, it would be perceived by many as damage control on the part of Malacañang.
“There is a call on the side of the government for dialogue with the churches. We welcome dialogue. It should have been done long before the tirades. We cannot then fault people who see this offer for dialogue as a damage control measure for the strong protests against Duterte and his cohorts. It may just be offered as a face-saving strategy,” said Pabillo.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III advised the President to faithfully heed his favorite Bible verse and just limit his thoughts about matters that have nothing to do with running the country to his close friends and allies.
Pimentel said the personality of the President, including the language he uses and his often mischievous behavior in public, is something that everyone would just have to live with.
But this does not mean that he should not restrain himself from time to time so as not to offend some sectors of society.
The President has said a lot of controversial things in his two years in office, but the latest where he called God “stupid” and then talked about having his own god has drawn a lot of flak, particularly from the members of the Catholic faith.