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‘Pray for Duterte,’ bishops ask faithful

‘Pray for Duterte,’ bishops ask faithful

Catholics join the penitential pilgrimage walk along the streets in Dagupan City to condemn the continued killings in the country, June 18, 2018. PHOTO FROM THE ARCHDIOCESE OF LINGAYEN-DAGUPAN

By Roy Lagarde

June 26, 2018

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic archbishop refused to get involved in a war of words with President Rodrigo Duterte, calling on the faithful to instead pray for the country’s top leader.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan called on Catholics not to let Duterte’s tirades against the Church for calling God “stupid” deter them from praying for him.

“Pray for him with compassion. We pray for his healing and for God’s forgiveness on him,” Villegas said in a statement addressed the young people of the archdiocese.

But the former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines urged the people to rebuke Duterte’s “errors” about Christian faith.

“He is a person in authority and some of you might get confused when you hear him. To pray for him is not enough. We must serve you the truth as we pray for him,” Villegas said.

“We are in a spiritual warfare against error and sin. Shield yourselves from error and guide your fellow youth in godliness. Read more about the faith. Study the true teaching of the Church,” he said.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said disagreeing with a particular belief does not give Duterte the license to insult the Catholic Church, especially that many of his supporters are Catholics.

“Disagreeing is never a license to insult,” said David, who is also the CBCP Vice President.

“How can he be the president for all Filipinos when he does not respect the Catholic faithful? Majority of his supporters are Catholics, aren’t they? We hope he will respect Catholics even if he does not agree with the Catholic faith,” he said.

“Catholics respect his role and mandate as the President. We can only hope that he shows the same respect to Catholics even if he disagrees with the Catholic doctrine,” said David.

According to Villegas, the President’s “scarred past” may be one of the reasons why he has been showing hatred and angst.

“He must have received so much rejection and hurts in the past that he blurts out so much hatred and angst now. If he had been loved much, he would be giving so much of that love too,” he said.