Responding to criticism from Roman Catholic priests over his war on drugs, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte fired back by accusing them of molesting children, participating in gay acts, and failing to understand the country's problems.
"Most people here are Catholic. If you are a good priest, make them understand that they will die," Duterte said about drug users, as he spoke to police officers on Thursday, according to The Guardian.
"You criticize the police, you criticize me. For what? You have the money. You are all crazy ... when we were making confessions to you, we were being molested. They are touching us. What is your moral ascendancy, religion? What is the meaning of it?" he demanded, further challenging priests to a "showdown."
Clergy have criticized the president's entire handling of the war on drugs and alleged extrajudicial killings. As many as 7,042 people have reportedly been killed in the anti-drug campaign, police figures apparently show, though Duterte said that the hard crackdown is needed in order to combat the nation's extensive drug abuse problem.
Priests have also opposed government measures to bring back the death penalty.
"In resisting the threat of the restoration of the death penalty, we cannot be disunited or indifferent," Archbishop Socrates Villegas, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said in December.
"On this pro-life issue, let us truly unite. Come out and make a stand!" Villegas called on Christians.
Reuters reported that Duterte's latest outburst came just a day after some of his top advisers met Pope Francis at the Vatican, in part to clarify that Duterte has no ill feelings toward the pontiff.
Francis had said that he would bless the Philippines, and "also bless your president," but that does not appear to have prompted Duterte to soften his tone against the country's priests.
The president blasted some members of clergy whom he accused of having wives or engaging in homosexual acts, which go against Catholic rules for priests. He also alleged that priests are misusing state funds and failing to explain where donations from the public go.
"You expose me, fine. I expose you. Why? Your mistake is just all right, but ours is not?" he said. "What will you do with the homosexuality in your seminaries? What have you done to the children there? Did you investigate us?"
"You asked for it. So if you really want a showdown, showdown. Make a change," Duterte continued.
"If you cannot mend your ways, if you cannot even give justice to the small boys that you have molested in the past, you do not have that moral ascendancy to lecture on the sanctity of life."
The Philippines leader has in the past also accused priests of failing to face up to the harsh reality the country finds itself in.
"The bleeding hearts, the priests and all, said there was death penalty before, and nothing happened. Then I can simply say, death penalty didn't work because it wasn't imposed," he has said.
"Every president along the way would just say, one because of the Catholic Church; second the bleeding hearts, because only God can kill. The problem there, I ask you, what if there is no God? So we allow the criminals?"
Duterte has clarified that he does believe in God, but does not support organized religion.