Pope Francis accepts Duterte’s apology

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 Apr) – Pope Francis has accepted the letter of apology from Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte who made the pontiff as the subject of his cursing over the major traffic gridlock during the Pope’s visit in the Philippines last year.

The two-paragraph reply letter dated February 24 and signed by Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the pope’s substitute for General Affairs, was coursed through Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles.

“His Holiness Pope Francis has received your letter of January 21, 2016, and he asked me to respond on his behalf. He appreciates the sentiments which you expressed… The Holy Father offers assurance of his prayers for you, as he invokes upon you the divine blessings of wisdom and peace,” it said.

Duterte took a swipe at the Holy See at the tail-end of his speech during his formal declaration as the standard bearer of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Manila on November 30, but he later explained that it was directed at the government’s mismanagement of the traffic situation, not at the Pope.

“Gusto ko tawagan, Pope, p—–ina ka, umuwi ka na. Huwag ka nang magbisita dito,” he said while narrating how he experienced a five-hour traffic from Roxas Boulevard to the airport during the Papal visit.

“I should have explained better my point on the matter of that monstrous traffic gridlock. My strong statement on the incompetence of those in government to address the traffic problem in Metro Manila was my expression of anger borne out of the helplessness of the millions of commuters suffering from this daily gridlock,” he said in his television program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” aired last December 6.

In a media interview on Monday at the Bishop’s Palace on F. Torres St., Valles said he was asked by Duterte to send his letter of apology dated January 21 to the Pope.

He said he was elated that the Holy See, through his aide, found the time to write a reply letter.

“I’m happy that the Holy Father hears the voice of his flock. I’m happy that despite his busy schedule, he found the time to write his reply. It was a nice gesture of the Holy Father and of the member of the flock,” he said.