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CBCP exec calls Duterte's remarks vs. going to church 'irresponsible, heartless'

An official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday denounced President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks that Catholics should stop going to church and just express their faith by setting up chapels in their houses.

"That is a very irresponsible and heartless statement. Senseless statement just sowing division and creating false religiosity," Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the CBCP- Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, told GMA News Online in a text message.

Santos emphasized that God always respects the decision and free will of individuals, adding that no one should act like God.

"So no one is not God, nor more than God to dictate our religious rights. Anyone who even holds the highest position in the land should never play like God, for it will just lead to disaster to all and disgrace of himself," he said.

"There is and we have freedom of religion. And anyone in his or her right mind would accept and respect it," he added.

In a speech, Duterte on Monday said Catholics need not go to church to pray as he criticized anew the Church's "archaic" teachings and collection of fees for baptisms, marriages and services for the dead.

Duterte has launched tirades against religion and the Church in the past, calling it "the most hypocritical institution in the Philippines." —KBK, GMA News