Prelate berates Philippines’ president in New Year message

Prelate berates Philippines’ president in New Year message Archbishop Socrates Villegas

A former head of the Philippines’ Catholic bishop’s conference has called on people to ignore President Rodrigo Duterte’s repeated rants against the Church.

In his New Year message, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said those who call God stupid and teach that it is useless to go to Church are “anti-Christ”.

“Do not listen to him who tells you it is useless to go to Church and attend Mass. Whoever teaches you that is an anti-Christ and there are many of them, including those who look at it is a joke,” the archbishop said.

Open letter

In an open letter to his godson Seth, Archbishop Villegas said he feared the child “might catch the wrong values”.

The prelate did not name Duterte in the message but clearly referred to the president’s statements. He told his godson to always treat women and girls with respect and reverence.

“Do not laugh when older men make fun of women. That is vulgar and if you laugh or imitate them, you become vulgar yourself,” he said.

“Rape is not a joke. Immodesty is not a laughing matter. Respect girls and women always. You have no excuse to abuse women, especially poor women,” said the archbishop in what was seen as criticism of a speech in which Duterte said he had sexually assaulted a housemaid when he was a teenager.

A spokesman later said the president’s comments were made in jest.

Duterte also has received flak from various groups for calling God stupid and for suggesting that people should not go to Church to attend Mass.

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