By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang sees the concern of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas for President Duterte as an invitation to a healthier discourse between the Church and the State.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after Villegas said that the President’s statements on the Church may not be good for his health and stature as the country’s leader.
The Archbishop was also quoted as saying that the Church has been through a lot of challenges and surpassed them over a span of 2,000 years.
Panelo welcomed the recent remarks of Villegas, saying the latter shares the sentiment of the majority that Duterte’s success is the country’s success.
“We consider such expressions of concern as an invitation to a healthy, mature, and constructive discourse between the Church and the State. The concern of Archbishop Villegas is, in fact, shared by the majority of Filipinos who understand that the success of this President equates to the success of the nation,” he said.
Panelo, however, assured the public that the President is in good health despite his busy schedule.
“We wish to assure the people, including the good archbishop, that the Chief Executive is as healthy as a bull given his age and punishing schedule,” he said.
“While he is at it, Archbishop Villegas may thus wish to implore the Heavens to bless the President with good health so he can accomplish more for our country,” he added.
The Palace official also agreed with Villegas that the Catholic faithful and members of the clergy should not be worried by Duterte’s remarks about religion.
“As Archbishop Villegas has suggested, the President’s stance on the doings of some members of the clergy should not in any way worry them considering the Church’s long existence,” Panelo said.
“There is therefore no need for some of its leaders to act distressed and manifest their unpleasant comments against the President, especially with respect to how the President runs the government,” he added.
Panelo also recognized that while the Church and the State cannot agree all the time, differences should not stop both parties from working together in improving the country.
“There will always be disagreement in religious beliefs but that should not deter us from helping each other for the good of the country,” he said.
“Let us therefore focus on our respective duties and maintain the inviolability of the separation between the Church and the State to avoid religion and governance from mixing and impeding upon each other,” he added.
Duterte has recently unleashed new tirades against the Catholic Church, citing anew the supposed wrongdoings committed by the men of the cloth. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)