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President-elect in Philippines rips 'hypocritical' Catholic Church

May 23, 2016

Newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has lashed at at the Catholic Church, escalating his conflict with the country's hierarchy.

The outspoken Duterte, who had described his election as an referendum in which voters would choose between the Church and himself, promises to push forward with a "three-child" policy of family planning, over the opposition of the country's bishops. 

"The most hypocritical institution is the Catholic Church," Duterte said on May 22. 

Duterte's open conflicts with the Church began last year, when, in a complaint about traffic snarls created by the visit of Pope Francis, he blurted out: "Pope, you [expletive], go home. Don't come here anymore." He later apologized in writing for that outburst-- and then retracted his apology.

The Duterte presidency, which is scheduled to begin formally in June, will be a test for the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines: a country where 80% of the population is Catholic. The populist leader enjoyed broad popularity despite his clashes with the Church on population-control policies and on complaints that he tolerated vigilante justice in Davao City during his 22 years as mayor there. 

 
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