Duterte wants to meet Pope Francis, apologize to him in person

Photo Credit: Sun Star/ Observer
  • Davao City mayor expresses desire to meet pontiff personally to apologize
  • Duterte’s campaign manager says prospect of mayor meeting pope likely
  • From a trip to meet OFWs in Middle East, they could also make a trip to Italy

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – To apologize and to make sure his tongue does not go astray again.

While he neither denied nor confirmed reports of a trip to Rome, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte did indicate he would want to have an audience with Pope Francis if he ever went to the Vatican so he could say sorry for cursing him in jest.

“Maybe just to talk…But if I meet him personally, then [to] say I’m sorry,” he told GMA News.

“He could pray for my tongue [so] that it would not go astray again,” he added.

Duterte endured criticism after he cursed Pope Francis after the latter’s visit in Manila caused traffic jams in the country’s capital.

In light of the controversy, the mayor apologized and said his expletive was aimed at the government’s inability to control traffic and not at the pope.

According to the mayor’s campaign manager, the prospect of him meeting the pontiff was not far off given that they are also planning to go to the Middle East anyway to meet with overseas workers there.

Duterte stalwart Leoncio Evasco Jr. said the mayor could fly to Italy after his planned tour to the Middle East since the country is nearby. The side trip would also allow Duterte to meet with OFWs currently based in Italy, he added.

With the Middle East and Italy having an estimated voting population of 5 million (1.5 million OFWs and their families), Duterte’s visit could provide a crucial tipping point given his low-key campaign and lack of a well-financed political machinery.