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Pope Francis receives Duterte's letter

HOTSPOT - Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
Pope Francis receives Duterte's letter
Pope Francis was welcomed like a rockstar during his apostolic trip to the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19, 2015.
Philstar.com / AJ Bolando, file

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 7:19 pm.) – President Rodrigo Duterte sent a personal letter to Pope Francis, remembering the pontiff's 2015 apostolic visit to the country.

In his letter marked with the Malacañang seal, Duterte extended his warmest greeting and respect to the pope and thanked him for his apostolic visit. The visit set a record gathering of millions of Filipinos around Rizal Park for Holy Mass.

“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,” the president said.

“The Philippines values its special relations with the Holy See and regards with gratitude Your Holiness' gracious stewardship of the Catholic faith,” he added.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay personally handed the president's letter late Wednesday (Manila time) to Pope Francis. The pope usually holds Wednesday morning audiences at Saint Peter's Square in the Vatican.

Government delegates are in Rome to attend the third round of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Dureza earlier said the group would make a side trip to Vatican City.

This is not the first time Duterte wrote a letter to Pope Francis. Last year, Duterte sent a letter of apology to the Holy See for cursing at the pope.

Substitute for General Affairs to the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, writing in behalf of the pope, acknowledged the then presidential candidate's letter and offered prayers for him.

In December 2015, Duterte drew ire from Catholics after he complained about the heavy traffic during the papal visit and cursed at the pope.

PAPAL VISIT

POPE FRANCIS

RODRIGO DUTERTE

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