PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte yesterday cited the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, stressing her qualities of simplicity, kindness and humility should be emulated.
"Let us emulate Mary’s qualities as a humble and caring person and remain guided by her faithfulness as we strengthen our devotion and nurture our lives with unconditional love and good deeds that will benefit the Filipino people," Duterte said in a statement issued on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
"I join the entire Filipino Catholic Community in commemorating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary," he said.
"Every year, our thoughts and hearts unite to celebrate the life of the Virgin Mary whose simplicity, kindness and humility we truly adore and admire. Since the advent of Christianity in the Philippines, she has been an epitome of faith and a source of inspiration for our people, especially during times of challenges and uncertainties," the President said.
"May the narrative of her Immaculate Conception be a constant reminder of her selflessness when she accepted the invitation to become the mother of Christ so that the plan of salvation would be realized," Duterte added.
"I wish you a happy and meaningful occasion," he said.
Duterte has in the past attacked the Catholic Church on several occasions, calling it "the most hypocritical institution in the Philippines."
The President also vowed to resign if anyone could prove the existence of God with a selfie. He also expressed doubts on the concept of heaven and hell.
He also criticized the Catholic Church's practice of veneration of saints, noting that he is contemplating joining another Christian sect.
Presidential spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, however, said the President's controversial remark during a situation briefing on the effects of Typhoon Rosita should not be interpreted as a "religious slight."
Duterte also said Catholics should stop going to church and should just express their faith by setting up chapels in their homes.
On Wednesday, he said almost 90 percent of Catholic priests are homosexuals.
In 2017, however, Duterte declared December 8 of every year a special non-working holiday in the Philippines to honor the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.