President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is planning to visit the Vatican to make a personal apology to Pope Francis for calling him a “son of a whore,” the politician’s spokesman said on Thursday.
“The mayor repeatedly said he wants to visit the Vatican, win or lose, not only to pay homage to the Pope but he really needs to explain to the Pope and ask for forgiveness,” Peter Laviña told reporters in Davao City in southern Mindanao.
Duterte, 71, the longtime mayor of the city, surged to a landslide election win on Monday after an incendiary campaign in which he gleefully used foul language to disrespect authority figures.
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 Philippines 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,’” he said.
Catholic leaders in the Philippines condemned Duterte’s comments but, like many other controversial remarks, they had little impact on his popularity.
Other campaign firebombs included saying he wanted to rape a “beautiful” Australian missionary who was sexually assaulted and murdered in a 1989 prison riot in Davao City.
He used “son of a whore” to describe many opponents and critics, including President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Duterte also vowed repeatedly that he would kill tens of thousands of suspected criminals in an unprecedented law-and-order crackdown, and boasted so many bodies would be dumped in Manila Bay that the fish would grow fat from feeding on them.
Pope prays for Duterte
Duterte had already apologized to the Pope Francis in a letter and received a response from the Vatican offering “the assurance of prayers,” his aides said on the campaign trail.
He said publicly the Pope was the victim of a “stray bullet” resulting from his gutter language and frustration with government incompetence.
Laviña also on Thursday said no schedule had been set for the Vatican trip, although it was a top priority.
Duterte is due to be sworn into office on June 30 for a term of six years.
Despite being raised as a Catholic, the mayor openly said he fathered four children by four women.
Among his closest friends and advisers is Apollo Quiboloy, leader of the Davao-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ religious group who openly calls himself “the Appointed Son of God.”