Philippines President Duterte Prophesies End of Catholicism in 25 Years

This "Quiapo Church" is the most densely-populated in the country, especially on Fridays and Sundays due to the presence of the Black Nazarene, paraded on Jan. 9 every year by hundreds of thousands of the penitent, despite some injuries and even death. The Church also carried a banner for months which read "Huwag kang Papatay," or "Thou shalt not kill," after the mounting number of killings by police in the bloody drug war. Photo by Baby Lyn Cacho Resulta.

This "Quiapo Church" is the most densely-populated in the country, especially on Fridays and Sundays due to the presence of the Black Nazarene, paraded on Jan. 9 every year by hundreds of thousands of the penitent, despite some injuries and even death. The Church also carried a banner for months which read "Huwag kang Papatay," or "Thou shalt not kill," after the mounting number of killings by police in the bloody drug war. Photo by Baby Lyn Cacho Resulta.

MANILA, Philippines — In what can be considered an attempt to be a modern-day astrologer like Nostredamus, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has “prophesied” the end of the Catholic Church in 25 years.

This, he said, is because of the various cases of alleged abuse committed against nuns, children and other civilians by its clergy.

“This Catholic (church) will disappear. In 25 years, it will already be gone,” he said in a gathering of local officials in Pasay City (part of the National Capital Region) over the weekend. (Read his words in Filipino here.)

Duterte, as he often does, did not mince words in condemning the “acts of lasciviousness” the clergy purportedly committed.

“People will no longer forget these (abuses). These Catholic (clergy), when they burn in sexual passion, use nuns, and if they are homosexuals, turn to kids. Who wants a religion like that? And people give to the regular Sunday collection, only for them to give to their mistresses,” he said in Filipino.

The Catholic Church has earned the president’s ire for criticizing his bloody war on illegal drugs and his brutal anti-crime campaign that seeks to jail even children.

But after accusations of inciting violence against Catholics, Duterte also stressed that bishops and priests should not be killed.

“What I can say about that is this: My quarrel with the Catholic Church is personal. You, who are drug addicts, don’t harm bishops and cardinals because they are not involved in the political ruckus,” he said. 

In December, Duterte said Filipino bishops were “useless fools” and should be killed.

“These bishops that you guys have, kill them. They are useless fools. All they do is criticise,” Duterte said, according to Al Jazeera. In January, he called the bishops “sons of bitches”.

Later that month, several priests were killed by unidentified assailants.

Even a female Muslim (Maranao) leader, Samira Gutoc, now running as a senator, blamed Duterte for attacks on Catholics, especially after a bomb explosion during a mass in Jolo, Sulu, a Muslim-dominated region. The attack killed 21 people and injured 100.

Duterte has also claimed he was abused by a prelate in his youth, as a student. The alleged offender is already dead.

Local prelates downplayed the president’s prediction, stressing the Catholic Church will stay on for the next several centuries.

Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, vice chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference, said a lot of people have made the same forecast long ago and many have deliberately tried to destroy the church, but it has prevailed.

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“It appears that not even the sins and human weaknesses of her own members could destroy the church… as long as we have the humility to admit such wrongdoings and do something to correct them, as what Pope Francis is asking us to do,” David said in a Facebook post.

He went on to say that the Catholic Church is “still in existence, not because of us, or perhaps in spite of us. Ironically, it is when the Church behaves like a worldly empire that she becomes irrelevant. There have been times when she got diminished or reduced to a minority as is already happening in some countries.”

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani stressed the Catholic Church “will survive a hundred Dutertes.”

“Many people have said that [the Catholic Church would die out] before, and where are they now? Six feet below the ground.” Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said. “The Church has existed more than 2,000 years.”