PH affirms ‘special relations’ with Vatican in Duterte letter to Pope
The Philippines affirmed Wednesday its “special relations” with the Vatican as President Rodrigo Duterte wrote a personal letter to Pope Francis to thank him for his visit to the country in 2015.
“Our countrymen remember your Holiness’ apostolic visit in 2015 with deep appreciation, knowing that it was made with the most sincere regard for the welfare of the Church’s flock,” Duterte’s letter read.
“The Philippines values its special relations with the Holy See and regards with gratitude your Holiness’ gracious stewardship of the Catholic faith,” he added.
Peace adviser Jesus Dureza said he hoped to personally hand the letter to the Pope during the “bacciamano” or kissing of the hand event held during Wednesdays at the Vatican.
“Please accept, your Holiness, the assurances of my highest esteem and respect,” Duterte said in his letter.
Dureza is currently in Rome for the third round of peace talks with communist leaders.
Duterte became controversial even before he assumed the presidency as he took a swipe at the Roman Catholic Church and even cursed Pope Francis.
He cursed at Pope Francis because of the inconvenience his visit brought to commuters, adding that it took him five hours to get to the airport.
“Sabi ko, ‘Bakit?’ Sabi sarado na [ang daan]. Sabi ko, ‘Sinong darating?’ Sabi si Pope. Gusto kong tawagan, ‘Pope, p******** ka, umuwi ka na. ‘Wag ka nang bumisita dito,” he said.
(I asked, why? They said the roads were closed. I asked, who’s arriving? They said it was the Pope. I wanted to call him and say, Pope, son of a b****, go home. Don’t visit here.)
The President later denied he was cursing at the Pope, saying the curse was not directed to the leader of the Roman Catholic Church but to the Philippine government’s incompetence.
Duterte had sent an apology letter to the Pope after the incident. Vatican responded, saying “the Holy Father offers the assurance of his prayers for you, as he invokes upon you the divine blessings of wisdom and peace.” JE
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