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Pope touches Philippine hearts with Aquino message

Letter of condolence 'demonstrates closeness of Filipino people to the pope'

Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila

Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila

Published: June 30, 2021 09:23 AM GMT

Updated: June 30, 2021 09:34 AM GMT

Pope touches Philippine hearts with Aquino message

Pope Francis thanks Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle after he delivered a message during a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on March 14 to mark 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. (Photo: AFP)

Catholic groups have thanked Pope Francis for sending a message to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressing his sadness at the death of former president Benigno Aquino.

Aquino died on June 24 in Manila from renal failure.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) published the pope’s message on June 29 on the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul.

“His Excellency Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, I am saddened to learn of the death of former president Benigno Simeon C. Aquino, III. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the people of the Philippines, recalling the late president’s service to the nation,” Pope Francis said in his letter.

“I commend his [Aquino’s] soul into the hands of the all-merciful God, upon his family and all who mourn his passing I invoke abundant consolation and peace in the Lord.” 

The social communication commission of Jaro Diocese in Iloilo province said the letter demonstrated the closeness of the Filipino people to the pope.

I remember president Aquino waited for hours and greeted Pope Francis upon his arrival at the airport in 2015

“It is consoling to read the pope’s letter saying he too was saddened by the death of former president Aquino. President Noy [Aquino] welcomed him to the Philippines when he visited the country in 2015,” Iloilo parishioner Marites Velardo told UCA News.

The Knights of Columbus of Sorsogon Diocese, south of Manila, likewise thanked the pope for his letter, saying the pope had likely not forgotten the hospitality the former president showed him during his visit.

“I remember president Aquino waited for hours and greeted Pope Francis upon his arrival at the airport in 2015. The president wanted to kiss his ring as per papal protocol but the Holy Father did not like it,” Knights of Columbus member Gerardo Japinan told UCA News.

Japinan said the former president and Pope Francis were one in dreaming to transform the Philippines into a better society.

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