Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte apologized to the “all forgiving God” after being heavily criticized for calling God “stupid” and a “son of a b****” in a controversial televised speech last month.
Duterte, 73, made the apology during a two-hour meeting with religious leaders at the Malago Clubhouse, but clarified that he was not saying sorry to any church or religious leader.
“I only apologize to God and nobody else,” he told Jesus Is Lord founder Eduardo Villanueva in a video posted on Facebook. “If I wronged God, then he would be happy to listen to my apology. Why? Because my God is all-forgiving. He does not remember past hurts. Why? Because God created me to be good, not bad.”
The Filipino leader reminded the religious leaders about the separation of church and state, saying they should not use God’s name to attack him or his administration.
“Remember that there is a division between church and state. You can criticize anything at all— from the garbage collector to generals and even to vice president and senator,” Duterte said. “But never, never use the name of God as a front to attack government because that is not the proper way to do it. There is a separation of state and church. Do not use God to attack me. That is not proper and I’m sure that is not what God wants.”
Duterte met with the religious leaders to improve his strained relations with Asia’s largest Catholic Church Monday and Tuesday last week after Philippine Catholic bishops called for fasting and prayer.
When Duterte criticized God and the Bible’s concept of original sin last month, his spokesman, Ruperto Santos, defended his remarks, saying the president has the right to express his opinion on religion and cited his previous disclosure that he was once sexually abused as a student by a priest.
Duterte has reportedly joked a few times that he would create a new religion called “Iglesia ni Duterte” where believers can do whatever they want, according to Filipino website Politiko.