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Leading Philippine prelate defends silence in wake of president-elect’s attacks

June 07, 2016

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has defended his silence in the face of strong criticism of the Church by the nation’s president-elect.

Describing the recent election as “referendum between me and the Catholic Church,” Rodrigo Duterte, 71, used an obscenity to describe bishops and said that “the most hypocritical institution is the Catholic Church.”

“I will lecture until June 29,” the day before his inauguration, “on whether or not you are still relevant,” Duterte added, as he described himself as an ex-Catholic who has founded a new church, the “church of Duterte.”

Defending his silence in wake of Duterte’s remarks, Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that “mine is the language of peace that refuses the dark magic of revenge. Mine is the silence of respect for those who consider us their enemies but whose good we truly pray for and whose happiness we want to see unfold.”

“Mine is the silence of Jesus before the arrogance of Pilate,” the prelate added.

 
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  • Posted by: DrJazz - Jun. 07, 2016 11:33 AM ET USA

    I think that the Archbishop makes a key mistake that is common in our age. Duterte is not akin to the pagan Pilate, who knew nothing about the faith and could potentially have been brought to conversion, but rather to Judas Iscariot, who practiced the faith but then publicly and decisively rejected it. We can pray for the conversion of both, but until then the latter person deserves to be called what he is, as Jesus (John 17:12) and the apostles (Acts 1:15-20) did when referring to Judas.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jun. 07, 2016 9:11 AM ET USA

    I am glad that Archbishop Villegas broke his silence. Attacks against the Church must not go unanswered. We see where 50 years of such behavior has resulted in a wounded and weak Church in the U.S., a Church where grievous public sinners, formed in Catholic schools, are given "the benefit of the doubt."