Pope Francis ‘offers prayers’ for Duterte after receiving letter

Pia Ranada
Pope Francis ‘offers prayers’ for Duterte after receiving letter

Alecs Ongcal

(UPDATED) The Vatican responds to a letter that presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte sent to Pope Francis last January

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED)  – A letter from presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte was apparently warmly received by Pope Francis, the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics who was the subject of Duterte’s cursing late last year.

“His Holiness Pope Francis has received your letter of 21 January 2016…He appreciates the sentiments you have expressed,” reads a letter from the Vatican dated February 24, 2016.

The letter was penned by Italian Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the substitute or top official for church internal affairs at the Vatican. Becciu stated that he was writing to Duterte in behalf of the Pope.

“The Holy Father offers the assurance of prayers for you, as he invokes upon you the divine blessings of wisdom and peace,” the rest of the letter reads.

Image from Editha Caduaya/Rappler

Duterte was only informed of the Vatican’s letter on Sunday, April 3, while he was campaigning in Bohol.

The letter was also read out by Davao City Archbishop Romulo Valles on Monday, April 4, from Davao City. He held a press conference at the Bishop’s residence in the city.

Valles said it was he who sealed Duterte’s letter and arranged for it to be sent to the Vatican.

Duterte cursed Pope Francis on November 30, 2015, at the tail-end of his speech during his declaration as the standard-bearer of political party PDP-Laban for the 2016 elections. (READ: CBCP slams Duterte for cursing Pope Francis)

Since the incident, he has called his statement a “mistake” and a “stray bullet,” saying his cursing was actually directed at the traffic woes caused by government mismanagement of the Pope’s visit.

During his sorties, he also frequently apologizes to parish priests of areas he visits.

Duterte had said last January that he was planning to visit Pope Francis to personally apologize. – With reports from Editha Caduaya/Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.