Pope Francis on Wednesday blessed the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte, months after the firebrand leader apologized for a misunderstanding when he reportedly cursed the head of the Roman Catholic Church for causing heavy traffic during his papal visit to the country in January 2015.
Duterte later clarified that he was not cursing Pope Francis, but the inefficient traffic management that led to heavy traffic in Metro Manila during the pontiff’s visit, and issued an apology to the Vatican. He later received a reply from a representative of the Holy See.
In a Facebook post, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said that he asked the Pope to bless the Philippines, and the pontiff replied that he will also bless Duterte.
Dureza delivered a letter from Duterte to Pope Francis during the baciamano, or the traditional kissing of the pontiff’s ring, in a visit to the Vatican.
In the letter delivered by Dureza, Duterte extended his and the Filipinos’ “warmest greetings" to Pope Francis, and assured the religious leader of his “highest esteem and respect.”
Dureza is in Rome to attend the third round of peace talks between the government and communist groups. He is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto “Jun” Yasay Jr. and other members of the Philippine contingent.