Catholics blast Duterte for ‘cursing’ Pope Francis

MANILA — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s speech at his proclamation event on Monday was met with a range of reactions, but his profanities, among which appeared to be against Pope Francis, evoked many Catholics’ ire.

Months after the pope visited the Philippines, Duterte complained about heavy traffic the papal visit caused, saying he and his companions were stuck for hours on the streets of Manila before they reached their destination.

“From the hotel to the airport, alam mo inabot kami ng limang oras. Sabi ko bakit? Sabi pinasarado daw,” Duterte, a presidential aspirant, said.

He then recalled being told that the roads were closed to give way to huge crowds wanting to see Pope Francis.

“Gusto kong tawagan, ‘Pope p******, umuwi ka na,” Duterte said, whose words made some supporters of political party PDP-Laban laugh.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said Tuesday that while corruption is a “great scourge” in Philippine politics and has to be condemned, vulgarity is also a form of corruption.

“Vulgarity is corruption. When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people,” Villegas said in a statement responding to Duterte’s remarks.

He said Duterte’s expletive directed at Pope Francis caused him “great shame.”

“When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laugh, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame. My countrymen has gone to the dregs,” Villegas said.

On social media, meanwhile, Duterte trended third on Twitter in the Philippines with netizens abuzz following Monday’s event proclaiming him and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as PDP-Laban’s top candidates for the 2016 elections.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, a Liberal Party stalwart, expressed on his personal Twitter account that he took offense to Duterte’s curseword against the pope.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, himself not a Catholic, said Duterte “owes Roman Catholics an apology.”
“Even we who belong to other religions respect the religious leaders of other faiths. Toughness must not cross certain boundaries,” Topacio said on his Twitter account.

Others similarly criticized the tough-talking Davao City mayor, who also admitted he is a womanizer and has wanted to executive suspected criminals.

Pope Francis’s pastoral visit in Manila and some parts of the Visayas in January drew the largest crowd for a papal Mass in history.