Duterte on Feast of the Immaculate Conception: Let us emulate Mary's qualities

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 8) - Following recent tirades against the Catholic Church, President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he joins the faithful in commemorating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In a message from Malacañang signed by the President, he hailed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, for her simplicity, kindness and humility.

"Let us emulate Mary's qualities as a humble and caring person and remain guided by her faithfulness as we strengthen our devotion and nurture our lives with unconditional love and good deeds that will benefit the Filipino people," the message read.

It added that Mary's acceptance of the invitation to conceive and bear Jesus should be a constant reminder of selflessness for Filipinos.

Mary "has been an epitome of faith and a source of inspiration for our people, especially during times of challenges and uncertainties," Duterte said.

Duterte's message comes after he drew flak for controversial statements against the Catholic Church, including calling on people to kill "useless" bishops who criticize his government. Malacañang shrugged off concerns over Duterte's remark, saying the public "should be getting used to" the President's exaggerated statements which are only meant for "dramatic effect."

READ: Panelo on Duterte's 'kill bishop' remark: He wants to kill them with kindness

Duterte in 2017 signed Republic Act No. 10966, declaring December 8 of every year a special non-working holiday in the entire country to commemorate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, suspending classes and work for the Catholic feast. The Catholic Church urges its members to attend mass every December 8 to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, "a time to celebrate the great joy of God's gift to humanity in Mary."