MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte managed a qualified apology to God, especially his "all-forgiving" God during a dinner with religious leaders on Tuesday night, July 10.
"If it's the same God, I'm sorry, that's how it is. Sorry, God. I said sorry, God. If God is taken in a generic term by everybody listening then that's well and good," he said in a video taken during the late-night meeting.
He was still seated at a dining table he shared with the religious leaders, led by Jesus Is Lord founder Brother Eddie Villanueva.
"I only apologize to God, nobody else. If I wronged God, he would be happy to listen. Why? Because my God is all forgiving....Why? Because God created me to be good and not bad," he said.
The religious leaders could be heard off-camera thanking Duterte for his apology. One quipped, "Distinction is very important." Someone also said, "Thank you for the clarification."
Before his apology, however, Duterte repeated his criticism of religious persons using their position in their church to hit the government. In particular, he referred to Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox.
"She was a religious, she was agitating also everybody there, the strikers...And I said my God is good, he does not thrive on lies and they never egg people," said Duterte.
He again cried separation of church and state against priests critical of his administration.
"Never ever use the name of God as a front to attack government because that is not proper. There is a separation of church and state," he said.
Duterte himself has repeatedly called God stupid and belittled tenets of the Catholic faith while speaking behind the presidential seal.
Hours before his apology, Duterte insisted he was "not attacking the Church" and that he would never apologize as a "matter of principle."
"But if it's a matter of me asking forgiveness, forget it. As a matter of principle, I will not. And I can burn in hell if it is true," he had told reporters.
His apology also comes after the release of a Social Weather Stations survey that showed his satisfaction ratings reached a new low. The survey was conducted a few days after his "God is stupid" remark that drew outrage from religious groups and leaders.
Duterte appeared to brush aside the survey results when he was asked about it. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.