Aquino: Pope Francis asks Filipinos to pray for him
MANILA, Philippines – It seemed like an odd request from someone who is always being sought for prayers and special blessings: Pope Francis asked President Benigno Aquino III, and all Filipinos, to pray for him.
The Pope made the request to Aquino and all other members of the Philippine leader's official delegation when he met with them at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican on Friday, December 4.
The President relayed this during an interview with Philippine media at Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotel at the end of his 3-state official European visit that began in Paris.
Asked about his meeting with Francis, Aquino said: "Siguro, ang importante, gusto kong ipakiusap lang na ipagdasal natin siya, at sa lahat ng kasama sa delegation inulit niya ‘yung mensaheng ‘yon."
(Perhaps, what's important is I'd like to request that we pray for him. He repeated that message to all other members of my delegation.)
He added: "'Pag kaharap natin ang Papa ay humihingi tayo ng bendisyon, humihiling tayo na ipagdasal tayo. Pero siya, ‘yon lang ang kaisa-isang, kumbaga, ang mensahe sa atin na ipagdasal natin siya. So, sa inyong tulong, sana makarating sa ating mga kababayan."
(When we come face-to-face with the Pope, we ask for his blessing, we ask that he prays for us. But in his case, that is his one and only message to us, that we pray for him. So, with your help, hopefully this [message] will reach our countrymen.)
Aquino also said he told the Pope that his visit to the Philippines in January "and even the anticipation of his visit to the country seemed like the church was revitalized and continues to be revitalized."
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said the meeting lasted for about 45 minutes and took place inside the Pope’s library.
The two leaders talked briefly and had the opportunity to exchange presents with each other, Coloma added.
Aquino gifted the Pope with a bone china tea set made by Filipino designer Ito Kish and a box of fresh Philippine mangoes.
The Pope gave Aquino a bronze sculpture and copies of his latest encyclical on the protection of the environment, Laudato si; and his apostolic exhortation, Evangelli Gaudium.
Coloma said the bronze sculpture was of an "olive branch holding two halves of a cleft rock with the words "to seek what unites, to overcome what divides" inscribed on it.
“The sculpture is a metaphor for the duty of every state and person to build a culture of peace,” Coloma said.
Aquino attributed its significance to the ideas of being conciliatory and consensus building, a Palace statement said.
Shortly after his private audience with the Pope, Aquino met with Vatican Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. Through him, Aquino extended another invitation for Francis to visit Manila.
“They understand that the invitation is open but hindi niya sinabing pupunta siya sa atin. Ang klaro napakarami niyang kailangang puntahan pang ibang lugar,” Aquino said in his media interview.
(They understand that the invitation is open but he didn't say that he would visit us. It's clear that he has so many other places to visit.)
Francis made a state visit and apostolic journey to the Philippines in January, highlighted by a Eucharistic celebration in Leyte province for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). – Rappler.com