Updated: November 30, 2015 08:13 PM GMT
Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte, center, shakes hands with supporters outside a Manila hotel Nov. 30 after announcing he would run for president. Duterte drew criticism for cursing the pope for worsening traffic in the Philippines. (Photo by AFP)
A controversial Philippine mayor, running for president in next year's elections, has drawn the wrath of Catholic bishops after he cursed Pope Francis in a speech on national television on Nov. 30.
Davao City mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, drew flak after using offensive language to criticize Pope Francis for causing a traffic jam in Metro Manila during his visit to the Philippines in January.
"Do you know that it took us five hours from the hotel to the airport. I asked why? The roads were closed," said Duterte.
"I wanted to call out, 'Pope you [insult] go home. Don't come here anymore,'" Duterte said in Tagalog.
The Catholic bishops' conference issued a statement Dec. 1 condemning the speech.
"Vulgarity is corruption. When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people," said Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the bishops' conference.
"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 have gone to the dregs," said Archbishop Villegas in a statement.
"Corruption is indeed a great scourge of Philippine politics ... What the world desperately needs now is leadership by example," he said.
The speech also sparked anger among Filipino netizens.
"Mayor Duterte, you can say all you want about politicians but you don't curse my Pope Francis! #defendthepope," said presidential spokesman Erwin Lacierda in a tweet.
The hashtag #defendthepope immediately went viral.
Duterte later said it was not Pope Francis he was cursing but the inefficiency of the government.
The mayor, who is known for being a tough talker, said he would still not invite the pontiff to the Philippines if it meant Filipinos would suffer.
"If he asks me, 'are you inviting me again?' If people will suffer, can I say no this time," Duterte said in a radio interview.
"I don't crave for ratings, I do not need praises I will not die if I don't become president ... If you don't like my character, the solution is do not vote for me," he said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has been calling for an investigation into whether Duterte — nicknamed "Dirty Harry" for his ruthless stance on crime — was involved in alleged summary executions of suspected criminals in Davao City during his time as mayor.
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan warned against Duterte's reported threats to kill criminals once he is elected.
"There is a big difference between being righteous and thinking and acting like God," the archbishop told reporters after Duterte declared his presidential candidacy on Nov. 30.
"Taking justice into one's hands makes one think like God and act like a dictator," the prelate said.
"Time" magazine dubbed the Duterte, 70, as "The Punisher" in a 2002 article for his alleged connection to reported summary executions of suspected criminals in Davao City where he has been mayor for 22 years.
….As we enter the first months of 2022, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.