Duterte to stop tirades vs Church after meeting with Filipino Catholic bishops' leader

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President Rodrigo Duterte agreed to stop his tirades against God and the Church after a meeting with the leader of Filipino Catholic bishops. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 9) — President Rodrigo Duterte agreed to stop his tirades against God and the Church after a meeting with the leader of Filipino Catholic bishops in Malacañang Palace on Monday afternoon.

"PRRD agreed to a moratorium on statements about the church after the meeting," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a message following Duterte's meeting with Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Archbishop Romulo Valles.

Roque said the supposedly one-on-one meeting between Duterte and the Davao Archbishop, which was also attended by Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, took place at 4 p.m. and lasted for thirty minutes.

Roque earlier said after Duterte and Valles' huddle, there will be a meeting arranged between CBCP and the government's panel.

"Perhaps in the subsequent meeting, there will be an agenda to be formulated and agreed upon by the parties," he said in a regular media briefing.

The CBCP on Monday issued a pastoral letter or an official letter to the clergy and the Catholic flock addressing the killings of priests and what the bishops call disregard for human life.

"In these times of darkness, when there's so much hatred and violence, when murder has become an almost daily occurrence, when people have gotten so used to exchanging insults and hurting words in the social media, we admonish the faithful to remain steadfast in our common vocation and mission to actively work for peace," read the pastoral letter.

It said the persecution of church leaders is nothing compared to the sufferings of the poor in the country — "of drug addicts who are labelled as 'non-humans' and stigmatized as criminals and slum-dwellers being jailed for loitering because "the little alleys between their flimsy homes also serve as kitchens, bathrooms, recreations spaces and playgrounds for their children."

Duterte draw flak after calling God "stupid" at a speech in Davao City in June.

Days after, at another event in Cagayan de Oro, Duterte defended his statement, saying he uttered them in connection to an Australian nun whom he accused of taking part in political rallies.

"Wala akong sinabi na torpe ang Ginoo ko. Sabi ko — you review the tapes — your God is not my God because your God is stupid. Mine has a lot of common sense," he said.

Duterte added he had the freedom to believe in who he wanted to believe.

In another speech on Friday, Duterte said he will step down from the presidency if there was anyone who can prove God exists and that he has personally seen and talked to God.

Duterte has also been widely criticized for his war on drugs that has left thousands of drug suspects dead, and police roundup of tens of thousands of urban poor residents who supposedly violate city and town ordinances.