Turning up his war of words with the Catholic Church, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte now wants citizens to ditch mass, calling the church’s teachings out of touch and its bishops corrupt.
“You build a chapel on your own house and pray there. You don’t have to go to church to pay for these idiots,” Duterte said in a speech reported by ABS-CBN, the largest media conglomerate in the Philippines.
Duterte, who has never shied away from any controversy, made the comments at the groundbreaking of a water supply project in the city of Davao on Sunday, where he previously served as mayor before ascending to higher office in 2016.
After opening the infrastructure project, the unfiltered president lit into one of his favorite targets: God.
“What do they know about the world today? How can people 3,000 years ago predict or project what is happening today?” he asked, blasting the Vatican’s teachings as “archaic.”
Well used to insulting drug dealers and foreign leaders (describing Barack Obama as a “son of a whore”), this is not the first time the unrestrained president in Manila has taken on God (who he called “stupid”) and the Pope (also a “son of a whore”).
This time he took aim at the country’s bishops rather than its priests – some of whom, he said, were his friends – warning warned parishioners not to give money to bishops who he accused of engaging in corrupt behaviour by asking the government to provide them with vehicles.
Last week, Duterte had singled out a “Bishop David,” and accused the cleric of using church donations to enrich his family.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, a critic of Duterte’s heavy-handed anti-drugs policy, denied any wrongdoing in a Facebook post on Friday, saying that some people are just “sick” and “didn’t know what they were talking about.”
Compared to his usual outbursts, Duterte went relatively easy on the bishops this time. In 2016 he warned Church leadership “don’t f**k with me” in a by-now commonplace press-conference tirade.
After Brazil and Mexico, the Philippines is the third most populous Catholic nation on the planet with an estimated 76 million followers according to 2010 statistics cited by Pew Research.