Pity the poor bishops of the Philippines, and the poor Filipino Catholics, who have had to endure yet another embarrassing outburst from President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte has now waded into controversy by calling God “stupid”. It seems that in one of his televised speeches the President decided to have a go at explaining the story of Adam and Eve. Not a wise move at all.
The President has form on this matter. At various times in the past he has raged against several world figures, including Pope Francis. Time magazine has made a list of all these insults, and it makes sad reading. This month’s addition is the worst yet. Mr Duterte is now 73, so it is unlikely that he is going to grow up any time soon. In the meantime, the people of the Philippines, and the rest of us, must put up with him. He has, it is surely fair to say, brought shame on his office – even before we get to his statements on contraception and same-sex marriage and the horrifying way his drug war has been conducted.
There is something else here for Catholics to consider. Duterte’s spokesman justified his remarks by saying: “I think the declaration of the president stemmed from his bad experience when still young. He was allegedly abused by a priest. This is an issue that the Church should face and perhaps it just happened that the president is one of the victims.”
This shows how the Church has been discredited by the mishandling of abuse. We might expect that in Britain, but that this should be the case in the Philippines, one of the most Catholic countries on earth, is a sign of the extent and the depth of the damage the abuse crisis has done.