By Camille A. Aguinaldo
MALACAÑANG clarified President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s recent remarks describing the Catholic Church’s teachings on the Holy Trinity as “silly,” saying that the President was merely putting “to a test” their validity.
In a statement on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said the President’s statements was “his way of shaking long held religious tenets and beliefs” of the Catholic Church, which make individuals “cling to religion as an opium,” rather than “molding them into being righteous individuals.”
“In so doing, the President puts to a test the validity of the religious rituals bordering (on) fanaticism as against the practice of genuine spirituality as taught by the different personifications of one God,” he said.
In his Dec. 29 speech in Kidapawan City, Mr. Duterte maintained that there’s only one God and described the Catholic Church’s teachings of God being divided into three divine persons as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as “silly.” He also mentioned his dislike of the Church’s belief in saints.
“There’s only one God. It’s Allah. God the Father, period. There is no other God for me. Only one God. Other have Saint Catalina, Saint Ana, Saint Tomas, Saint Sebastian, Saint Rodrigo….I don’t know them,” he said in Filipino.
“They pray to God, they also pray to the saints….There’s only one God, period. You cannot divide God into three. That’s silly,” he added.
Mr. Panelo said the Church and its believers should take the President’s “unorthodox narratives” as a way to strengthen their faith, rather than taking these as an offensive remark.
He also said the President “endeavours to be creative” to convey his messages to the public, which he said has been effective as public opinion survey has showed.
“In making those unconventional discourses, the President is mindful on any consequential erosion of his public support. His intention being to initiate an intellectual discussion for the faithfuls’ enlightenment and spiritual awakening which could lead them to tread the path of uprightness so necessary in the moral regeneration of a nation so abundant with religiosity but wanting in spirituality,” Mr. Panelo said.
Mr. Duterte has criticized anew the Catholic Church in his recent speeches, questioning several of its teachings and criticizing its leaders for meddling into how he runs the country. The Church, for its part, has been critical of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, which they said has led to thousands of killings.