MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president, notorious for having insulted the pope and former U.S. President Barack Obama, has sparked outrage for calling God “stupid” in Asia’s bastion of Catholicism.
Opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV shot back Monday by describing President Rodrigo Duterte as “one evil man” and his remarks as “very much consistent with the deceitfulness, heartlessness and ruthlessness of his policies.” Even some of Duterte’s allies voiced criticism.
Catholic Bishop Arturo Bastes sought prayers to end Duterte’s “blasphemous utterances.”
Duterte questioned in a speech Friday the Biblical story on man’s creation and asked why God created Adam and Eve only to allow them to succumb to temptation that destroyed their purity.
“You created something perfect and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work,” said Duterte.
Duterte asked, “Who is this stupid God? This son of a bitch is then really stupid.”
“I share with the feelings and thoughts with these concerned fellow Filipinos,” said Bastes, according to ucanews.com.
The bishop called on Filipinos to “fervently pray to the Lord that such blasphemous utterances and dictatorial tendencies of this mad man will cease.”
The Catholic Church has in the past criticized the Duterte government for its violent anti-drug campaign, which had led to the extra-judicial killing of thousands of people. The bishops have also called on the government to better protect the nation’s clergy, after the murder of three priests in separate incidents since December.
Duterte’s spokesman defended his remarks, saying the president has the right to express his opinion on religion and cited his previous disclosure that he was once sexually abused as a student by a priest.
Duterte stressed that right in another speech Monday. “Why do you bind me with something very stupid? I was given my own mind by God.”
Duterte shocked Filipino Catholics in 2015 when he cursed visiting Pope Francis for having triggered a monstrous traffic in Manila. He later apologized, but has repeatedly lashed out at bishops and the dominant Catholic church, which has criticized his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs.
Obama, who also raised alarm over the drug killings under Duterte, was also a target of the Philippine leader’s tongue-lashing. He once said the American leader should “to go to hell.”
The former longtime city mayor has repeatedly declared he does not care about human rights and has threatened drug dealers and other criminals with death. He warned he would withdraw the Philippines from the United Nations after its human rights experts called for an independent investigation into extrajudicial killings under his rule. He described the world body as hypocritical for failing to prevent genocides worldwide.
Crux staff contributed to this report.