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Manila's top bishop 'won't dignify' Duterte's 'irresponsible' claims about Tagle

The Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila has described as "irresponsible" the claims made by President Rodrigo Duterte that Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was removed by Pope Francis from his position as Manila archbishop for allegedly interfering in the country's politics.

"I do not dignify with a comment irresponsible statements (especially) from the head of state," Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said Wednesday in a text message to GMA News Online.

Speaking before local government executives on Tuesday, Duterte alleged that the Vatican conducted an investigation against Tagle for supposedly meddling in politics, angering the pope.

“Tingnan mo, gamit nila ang pera kinontribute nila doon sa yellow-yellow. Tingnan mo ang nangyari, wala tayong bishop ngayon. Di mo ba alam? Tinanggal. Binigyan lang tayo ng caretaker ngayon na pari. Walang bishop ng Maynila. Nagalit si Pope kasi nakialam sa pulitika. Iyan ang totoo diyan,” he said.

“Kaya binigay sa atin officer-in-charge na lang. Wala tayong bishop. Tagle was out. He was investigated. Iyan ang open secret. Malaman ko kasi nakikinig ako sa lahat," he added.

Tagle was archbishop of Manila from 2011 until he left for Rome in February this year to take on his new role as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a top Vatican post.

The Manila archdiocese is now "sede vacante," which means the seat of the archbishop is vacant. Pabillo, in the meantime, serves as the apostolic administrator.

The president has repeatedly launched tirades against the Catholic Church, bringing up the supposed misdeeds of clergymen. Duterte also said priests should not use the Church to attack him and his policies, particularly the campaign against illegal drugs.

Pabillo, for his part, has criticized Duterte on a number of occasions in light of his criticisms of Catholic leaders and his ongoing war on drugs.  In June 2018, Pabillo called Duterte's remarks in a speech "blasphemous" after the Chief Executive referred to a "stupid God" and questioned the wisdom of the the Creation.

Pabillo in December 2018 also accused Duterte of making irresponsible statements when the President said he was wishing death on bishops whom he called useless. —JST, GMA News