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Duterte changes mind about personal apology to Pope

May 17, 2016 · 

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DAVAO—Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he had cancelled plans to visit the Vatican to personally apologize to the Pope for his slur last year against the Pontiff.

“No more. That’s enough,” Duterte told reporters who asked about the trip. He said he had already sent a letter of apology to the Vatican.

He said the trip “would be an exercise in duplicity.”

Duterte, 71, the longtime mayor of Davao City, won the presidency in stunning fashion following an incendiary campaign in which he gleefully used foul language to disrespect authority figures.

In a rambling speech to announce his presidential bid, Duterte cussed at Pope Francis for the traffic jams in Manila during the Pontiff’s visit to the mainly Catholic country in January 2015.

“It took us five hours to get from the hotel to the airport. I asked who was coming. They said it was the Pope. I wanted to call him: ‘Pope, you son of a *****, go home. Don’t visit anymore’,” said Duterte.

Catholic Church leaders condemned Duterte’s comments but, like his other controversial remarks during the campaign, they had little impact on his popularity.

Duterte wrote the Pope a letter of apology during the campaign and received a standard response from the Vatican offering “the assurance of prayers.”

He scheduled a visit to the Vatican to make a personal apology. His spokesperson confirmed on Thursday the next President still planned to make the trip.

But on Sunday night, Duterte, in his first press conference since Election Day, said he had changed his mind.

“I might go there (the Vatican) and they will say, ‘We are taking back the prayers’,” he said.

Duterte said a senior official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said that “it’s not clear whether I was forgiven.”

“But you know God is my friend [and] I ask Him if I’ve been forgiven for all the sins I’ve committed on this planet,” he said, and God replied: “Now and forever.”

Duterte was raised a Catholic, but among his closest friends and advisers is Apollo Quiboloy, leader of the Davao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ  sect who calls himself “the Appointed Son of God.” AFP

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