Noy meets with Pope Francis at Vatican today
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2015 - 9:00am

ROME – President Aquino will have a private audience with Pope Francis today at the Vatican.

Aquino’s side trip to the Vatican will reciprocate the pontiff’s visit to the Philippines in January, which made history after about six million people attended the mass celebrated at Rizal Park.

Aquino and Pope Francis would tackle “issues of mutual concern” like climate change, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for European affairs Maria Cleofe Natividad said in a recent interview.

Natividad said the visit would also be an opportunity for the President to discuss rehabilitation efforts in Tacloban, the area worst hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Pope Francis visited the typhoon-ravaged city during his visit in the country despite stormy weather. 

Controversial issues

The pope and the President are not likely to tackle controversial issues, including the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, according to Natividad.

Aquino certified the RH Law, which provides state funding for contraceptives, as urgent amid protests by Church officials, who believe it encourages sexual promiscuity and abortion.

Opponents of the measure noted that the huge amounts allotted for contraceptives could be used for more meaningful anti-poverty programs.

Aquino’s meeting with Pope Francis will also be held amid the outrage against Davao City Mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, who cursed the pope because he was stuck in traffic during the papal visit. The mayor has apologized for his remarks.

Aquino will also have a meet-and-greet with Pietro Parolin, the Cardinal Secretary of State, during his visit to the Vatican.

He will also witness the unveiling and blessing of the mosaic image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the patroness of Bicol.

AQUINO AQUINO AND POPE FRANCIS CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE DAVAO CITY MAYOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ASSISTANT SECRETARY MARIA CLEOFE NATIVIDAD OUR LADY OF PE PIETRO PAROLIN POPE FRANCIS PRESIDENT AQUINO
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