Palace takes no offense on Pope’s statement; brushes off “friend of devil” comment as hyperbole

Published February 21, 2019, 3:49 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said is not offended by the recent remark of Pope Francis that those who constantly criticize the Church are friends, cousins, and relatives of the devil.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after the Pope made the general statement to worshipers in Vatican that those who condemn the Church without love were linked to the devil.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

“One cannot live a whole life accusing, accusing, accusing, the church,” Francis said. People who did, according to the Pope, were “the friends, cousins and relatives of the devil.”

In his press briefing, Panelo said that while he has not read the statement of the Pope, the pontiff himself is one of the critics of the Church.

“I haven’t read the reaction of the Pope. But one of the better critics of the Church is the Pope himself,” he said Thursday.

“He criticizes the members of the Church who are engaged in what he perceives to be immorality, which is outside the teachings of Christ or the internal discipline of the Church,” he added.

However, Panelo said that the Palace is not offended by what the Pope said, given that President Duterte himself has been releasing tirades against the Catholic Church.

“No [we’re not offended]. Eh si Presidente hindi ba ina-assault ng lahat ang reputasyon no’n. Pinapabayaan niya lang. Okay lang yun (The President’s reputation is being attacked repeatedly but is only ignoring them. So that’s okay),” he said.

The Palace official then said he thinks the Pope’s statement is just a hyperbole anyway.

“Palagay ko ano lang yun, hyperbole. Kumbaga ano lang niya yun… Hindi (I think it’s just a hyperbole. It’s just nothing)… When you criticize you cannot be evil,” Panelo said.

“It does not mean also that when you criticize you are evil. You’re just expressing concern, an opposition to certain irregular behavior,” he added.

Pope Francis’s remarks came as dozens of victims of abuse by members of the clergy gathered in Rome ahead of an unprecedented Vatican summit on the issue. The four-day event will be attended by about 180 bishops and cardinals.

In a speech in Malacañang Wednesday, President Duterte lashed out on the Catholic Church anew. He referred to the recent arrest of a priest accused of molesting more than 50 people in Biliran.

Read more: Pope says church’s attackers are linked to devil