Rodrigo Duterte has defended his provocative remarks after facing stiff criticism from Catholics who branded him a “madman” for calling God “stupid.” The Philippines’ president reiterated that “his God” has plenty of common sense.
“I did not say my God was stupid,” Duterte said in Filipino, speaking in Cagayan de Oro on Monday. “Your god is not my god because your god is stupid. Mine has a lot of common sense.”
Raised as a Catholic, the 73-year-old leader lashed out against the Church, claiming that no one can “bind” him to any faith. “If I choose not to believe in any God, what’s the “f*****g thing about it? It’s about the freedom to choose one,” he said.
After facing an avalanche of condemnation from Church leaders following his remarks on Friday over his interpretation of the original sin story in the Bible, in which he called God’s decision “stupid,” on Monday he also questioned the canonization process. In particular, the Philippine leader brought up the issue of the Last Supper and the pictorial interpretation of the final meal Jesus shared with the Apostles before the crucifixion.
“Who are the idiots there?” Duterte wondered in a mix of Filipino and English. “The people in the painting were suddenly made saints just because they were there.”
The presidential spokesperson tried to defuse the controversy, explaining that Duterte’s interpretation of the Bible was influenced by his own “unpleasant” experience with Catholicism. Meanwhile, Bishop Arturo Bastes urged over 70 million Church followers in the country to pray for their “madman” president.
“Duterte’s tirade against God and the Bible reveals again that he is a psychological freak, a psychopath, an abnormal mind who should have not been elected as president of our civilized and Christian nation,” Bastes said, as Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo deemed the president’s opinion as “blasphemous.”
Duterte’s tirade was also labeled as “blasphemy” by the opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes and pro-life Philippines chairman Raul Nidoy.
Duterte, who revealed in 2015 that he was molested by a priest when he was young, has frequently slammed the institution of the Catholic Church, which has been particularly critical of his harsh anti-drug policies. Even before his ascent to power, Duterte called Pope Francis a “son of a whore” during his election campaign.