After calling God “stupid,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that he will seek to have a dialogue with the country’s bishops’ conference in an effort to repair relationships.
The president’s spokesperson announced that a committee would be created to better collaborate and communicate with the country’s bishops.
On Friday, Duterte caused controversy when, in a speech, he said God was “stupid,” and a “son of a b-tch” for including the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden after consuming the forbidden fruit.
“How can you rationalize a God? Do you believe?” added Duterte. He also spoke negatively about the concept of original sin, calling it a “stupid proposition.”
Despite the outcry from his initial remarks, Duterte did not back down. He said that he was criticizing only the God that his critics believe in, not his personal God. Duterte was raised Catholic.
"What I said was your God is not my God, because your God is stupid. Mine has a lot of common sense,” said Duterte on Monday. He also said that the creation of Eve was God’s “greatest mistake.”
A presidential spokesperson said that the comments represented Duterte’s personal beliefs, and referenced the president’s previous statement that he had been abused by a priest while a student at Catholic school, the BBC reported.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said they were willing to meet with Duterte to discuss various issues and to rebuild the relationship between the Church and the government. Duterte is seeking to form a committee on this issue.
Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the CBCP, said on a Catholic radio station in the Philippines that the invitation was a “most welcome development,” and that “to dialogue is to listen to one another, and is always good.”
Valles and Duterte have been friendly in the past, according to Filipino media.
Other bishops in the country aren’t so sure that Duterte is genuine in his desire for a dialogue. Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the auxiliary bishop of Manila, told ABS-CBN News that the call for a dialogue was “just his way of diffusing the criticisms against him.”
The Philippines is about 80 percent Catholic, and an additional 10 percent of the population is Protestant.
Duterte has been openly hostile to the Catholic Church since he came to power in July of 2016. Shortly before taking office, he referred to the country’s bishops as “sons of wh-res.”
He has been accused of “social cleansing” for his bloody war on drugs in the country. The country’s bishops offered to provide sanctuary for any whistleblowers in the Philippine police department who spoke out against various human rights abuses. In response, Duterte said the Church was “full of sh-t.”