After rants vs Catholic Church, Duterte to meet CBCP president

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte, who drew flak for his latest rants against God and the Catholic Church, is scheduled to have a "one-on-one dialogue" with Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, Malacañang announced Saturday, June 30. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement after meeting with Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Pope Francis' envoy to the Philippines, during the Pope's Day event on Friday night.

In that meeting, "it was agreed that both State and Church should work together for the benefit of the people," Roque said on Saturday.

He added that the Papal Nuncio "also welcomes further meetings" with the President. 

Despite an invitation from the Papal Nuncio, Duterte was a no-show at Friday's event. He was instead represented by Roque and members of a presidential committee formed to dialogue with religious groups

This latest development comes more than a week since Duterte called God "stupid" and mocked the creation story in the Bible in a June 22 speech. His remarks were criticized not only by leaders of the Catholic Church, but even Christian groups and churches.

In recent weeks, the Catholic Church has also raised concerns regarding the killings of priests, following the murders of Nueva Ecija priest Father Richmond Nilo, Father Mark Anthony Ventura in Cagayan, and Father Marcelito Paez in another part of Nueva Ecija. – Michael Bueza/