Duterte: Catholic bishops are better off dead

Rodrigo Duterte once again criticized Catholic bishops and priests

President Rodrigo Duterte has attacked Catholic bishops again today, saying they are "better off dead."

"Bishops who do nothing but criticize are better off dead," Duterte said today in Malacañang (the Philippine president's official residence) during the ceremony of the 2017 Presidential Award for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities.

The Philippine president said that the Catholic Church is "the most hypocritical institution," citing persistent allegations of corruption and abuse involving some Catholic bishops and priests. "If they can't be celibate, get out," he said.

In addition to the alleged involvement in sexual abuse cases, Duterte accused the Catholic Church of being a "gridlock" in the implementation of family planning in the country.

The Philippine president has been persistently attacking Catholic bishops and priests - especially the Bishop of Caloocan, Pablo David, who happens to be one of his staunchest critics. Pablo David took Duterte's criticism seriously and responded by saying the country should pray for the president because he is "a very sick man."

In November, Duterte upped the ante in his ongoing battle with Catholic bishops and priests across the country (where more than 85% of the population are Catholics) by urging Filipinos to stop giving contributions to the Catholic Church.

"Build a chapel in your own homes and pray there. That way you don't need to go to church and give money to these idiots," Duterte said on November 26 during the opening of a water supply system in Davao, southern Philippines.

Duterte further said that "Catholic beliefs are archaic" and cannot be applied today because they are grounded in a 3,000-year-old faith.

Following talks with the country's Catholic hierarchy, both parts agreed on a truce - now broken by Duterte.

The conflict between Duterte and the Catholic Church goes back to February 2017, when the Episcopal Conference criticized the president's "war on drugs" by calling it a "reign of terror" - to which Duterte reacted by insulting the bishops.