Calling the Catholic Church a “hypocritical institution,” President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines on Tuesday once again broke a pledge to stop criticizing the country’s dominant religion.
“Is there any bishop here? I want to kick your a**,” Duterte said at a meeting of business leaders in Manila.
Duterte said he was a victim of the deceased Jesuit priest Father Mark Falvey, who had been convicted for sexual offenses.
“We were molested, all of us,” he said about his experience in Catholic school.
The president also declared he was no longer Catholic, but a member of his own church, the “Iglesia ni Rodrigo.”
“Iglesia ni Rodrigo does not limit anything. Do not believe in hell. If you die you will be a piece of carcass,” Duterte said.
“I have my own concept of God is — what God is. It’s really the history. It’s only one God, God the Father. He’s not even the father. He’s God, period,” he added.
After a 30-minute meeting July 9 between Duterte and Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the president had promised to stop attacking the Church.
The meeting came after he called God “stupid,” drawing condemnation from many in the highly religious country. The Philippines is 81 percent Catholic, with a further 11 percent belonging to Protestant denominations. A little over 5 percent of the population is Muslim, mostly in the southern Moro region.
On Tuesday, Duterte implied the Church was misappropriating funds, and said if he became a pastor after he retired he could “buy my own plane.”
“The Catholic Church is strict about the behavior of workers of government because we spend the people’s money. But may I ask now, you collect — not even taxes — there’s a log — bag of money and they go around collecting,” the president said.
“Now there’s a second collection, please be generous because the second collection is for the — for my family,” Duterte continued, before claiming Church orphanages were for the children of priests.
Although most of Duterte’s rant was aimed at the leaders of the Church, he also crudely attacked the devotion of the common believer, turning his ire to the veneration of saints.
“There’s a — there’s something, yours is San Isidro, your saint. And who is this s***?” Duterte asked.
“Who is this guy San Isidro that every town fiesta we kill our cows, carabaos? Just to spend because it is the fiesta of San Isidro. San Pablo — who were they?”
Duterte has been at odds with the country’s Catholic Church since before he took office. Church leaders have condemned his bloody crackdown on the drug trade which has left thousands dead in extrajudicial killings, as well as his efforts to reintroduce the death penalty.
Despite his anti-Catholic diatribes, the president remains hugely popular in the Philippines, with the latest poll showing an approval rating of 88 percent.