MANILA, Philippines — The president of the Philippines encouraged Catholics to build their own chapels, rather than attending Catholic churches.
“When someone is baptized, you have to pay. … When someone dies, you have to pay,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech Nov. 26.
“Build your own chapel in your own house, and pray there. You don’t have to go to church to pay for these idiots,” he added, according to Rappler news website.
Though president of a predominantly Catholic country, Duterte has a record of criticizing the Catholic Church.
On All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, the president said, apparently joking, that Christians should display his picture on church altars instead of depictions of “drunkard” saints.
“Who are those stupid saints? They’re just drunkards,” Duterte said, according to The Philippine Star.
“Just stay with me. I’ll give you one patron saint so you can stop searching for one. Get hold of a picture of mine and put it on the altar — Santo Rodrigo,” he said.
In August, Duterte called the Church a “hypocritical institution.” And he asked at a meeting of business leaders, “Is there any bishop here? I want to kick you’re a--.” In June, the president said that God is “stupid” and a “son of a b----.” The president’s spokespersons have frequently mentioned that the context for his statements is the abuse he apparently suffered while he was a student at a Catholic school.
Duterte has said he was molested by Jesuit Father Mark Falvey, who has been accused posthumously of serially sexually abusing children. In May 2007, the California province of the Society of Jesus reached a $16-million settlement with at least some of his victims.
Duterte, who is accused of human-rights abuses amid a brutal crackdown on drug trafficking in the Philippines, ordered this year that Sister Patricia Fox, a longtime activist in the country, be deported, in response to her criticisms of government tactics. After a legal battle, Sister Patricia returned to her native Australia, but she says she will appeal her immigration case in the Philippines.
In August, Father Amado Picardal, a priest who criticized Duterte, went into hiding, saying that “death squads” had targeted him for assassination.