During mass at the Manila Cathedral on Monday evening, the public gave bishops a 30-second applause to express support to the church leaders who are being criticized by President Duterte.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was joined by some 20 other bishops during the concelebrated mass for the rite of dedication of the altar of the Manila Cathedral, which was celebrating its 60th anniversary since its postwar restoration.
Also present were Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, former CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and CBCP vice president Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David.
The other bishops in attendance came from the dioceses of Baguio, Pampanga, Lucena, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato and Zamboanga, thereby showing that the Manila Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Philippines.
Just before the mass ended, Manila Cathedral rector Fr. Reginald Malicdem said that he was inspired by the second reading during the mass.
“Many might be saddened by the events that are taking place in our society. We want to tell our bishops the words from the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians 4: 8-9,” Malicdem said.
The two Bible verses read: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
He expressed his gratitude to the prelates who officiated the mass and asked those present, numbering around 2,000, to show their love to the bishops by applauding for them.
The bishops have recently been at the receiving end of the President’s tirades with accusations that 90 percent of them are gay and that Bishop David stole from Church coffers to give to his family and that he might be involved in illegal drugs.
Duterte also said, for dramatic effect and only as a hyperbole, that bishops should be killed because they only criticize him.