MANILA, Philippines – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he would “really kill” child molesting priests, in his latest broadside against the Catholic Church.
Speaking on Sunday at a campaign rally in Cagayan de Oro City, Duterte said it would be “a better world” if all molesting priests were “killed tonight.”
Duterte has been at odds with the country’s Catholic Church since before he took office in 2016. Church leaders have condemned his bloody crackdown on the drug trade which has left thousands of people dead in extrajudicial killings, as well as his efforts to reintroduce the death penalty.
Duterte has claimed he was abused by a priest when attending Ateneo de Davao High School, a Jesuit-run institution, in the late 1950s.
“To the priests who raped children and fondled balls, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you. Why should I be afraid? If you all get killed tonight, that would be better. Then we will have a better world,” Duterte told supporters on Sunday.
The president also called the bishops “sons of bitches” that “serve the rich and the elite, those who are owners of banks and other businesses.”
“All governments in the world, for as long as the Catholic Church interferes with governance, are chaotic. Whether it’s in Chile, South America. As long as there are priests. That has been the case since the olden times,” Duterte said.
During the rally, the president also singled out a priest who allegedly called for Duterte’s death during a homily at Mass.
“What kind of religion is that? Roman Catholic Church … What kind of religion would pray for the death of another person?” Duterte asked.
This is not the first time the president has threatened violence against clerics.
On Dec. 5, the controversial leader said, “these bishops, kill them, those fools are good for nothing. All they do is criticize.”
Those remarks came just over a week after he threatened to have the “head cut off” an unnamed bishop called “David” – although believed to be Duterte critic Pablo Virgilio David, the Bishop of Caloocan.
David later confirmed to the media that he had received death threats from unknown people.
Earlier this month, three Philippine priests said they and some Church leaders who are critical of the president’s bloody crackdown on illegal drugs have received death threats from unknown people.
“The deadly words of Duterte against Catholics are like a dagger pointed at us,” Father Robert Reyes said March 11. “The message is clear. It’s not only people that he wanted dead but our faith as well.”