• Duterte cancels trip to Vatican

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    President-elect Rodrigo Duterte had cancelled plans to visit the Vatican to personally apologize for calling the pope a “son of a whore.”

    “No more. That’s enough,” Duterte told reporters when asked about the planned trip, pointing out he had already sent a letter of apology.

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

    In a rambling speech to announce his presidential run, Duterte lashed out at Pope Francis for causing traffic jams in Manila when he visited the mainly Catholic nation last year.

    “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, son of a whore, go home. Don’t visit anymore’,” said Duterte.

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

    Duterte sent an apology letter to the pope during the campaign and received a response from the Vatican offering “the assurance of prayers.”

    Duterte had said the pope was the victim of a “stray bullet” resulting from his gutter
    language and frustration with government incompetence.

    In his first press conference since election day, said Sunday night he had changed his mind.

    “I might go there (the Vatican) and they will say, ‘We are taking back the prayers’,” he said.
    Duterte emphasized that a senior figure of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said “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, adding that God replied: “Now and forever.”

    Duterte, who is due to be sworn into office on June 30 for a term of six years, was raised a Catholic.

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