A file image of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivering a speech at a police function in Manila on Aug. 8. (Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has renewed his attacks on Catholic leaders and urged Filipinos to stop going to church altogether.
The president, who earlier this year called God "stupid," suggested that people should instead build their own chapels where they can pray.
"You don't have to go to church to pay for these idiots," said Duterte referring to bishops who have condemned the spate of drug-related killings in the country.
Duterte's recent tirade against church leaders came after he accused Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan of giving church donations to his family.
"You, David, you be quiet. You go on asking for contributions ... Where does the people's money go?" said the president in a speech on Nov. 22.
"You know, the truth is, I tell you, the offerings, the pineapple, avocado, bananas, where do they go? You want to know? I will show you. [They go] To his family.
"The fool just keeps on asking — there is even a second collection."
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan has been the target of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's latest tirade against Catholic leaders. The president accused the bishop of giving church donations to his family. (Photo by Angie de Silva)
In a statement Bishop David, a vocal critic of drug-related killings in the Philippines, said "people who are sick sometimes do not know what they are talking about."
Earlier this month, the bishop asked the public to pray for Duterte for he is a "very sick man." He made the statement after the president called saints "fools" and "drunkards."
Bishop David's pronouncement seemed to anger the president. On Nov. 26, Duterte said he thought that the bishop might be into drugs. "I'm telling you, David. I wonder why he goes around in the evening. I suspect that he might be into drugs," said the president.
Reacting to the president's statement, Bishop David posted on Facebook: "No sir, I'm not into drugs of any sort, whether legal of illegal. Never been."
"I only help in rehabilitating people addicted to drugs ... Thank God I am not even taking any maintenance drugs yet," said the prelate.
"I only take vitamins with fruit shake blended [with moringa] in the morning. You might want to try it, sir. It will do you a lot of good. God bless you."
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said people should ignore the president's statement.
"Every Filipino with the right mind should only ignore this nonsense," said Bishop Bastes. "I don't want to comment on this crazy idea. I am tired of his stupid remarks."
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the president's statement is "very irresponsible and heartless" and could sow division.
In his speech on Nov. 26, Duterte lambasted the bishops for believing in an "archaic" church that is only good at making money.
"The Catholic Church and Bishop David are clinging to a belief 3,000 years ago," he said. "How can people 3,000 years ago predict what is happening today?"
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said Duterte's ranting "will have no effect."