Monday, June 26, 2006

Pope Receives an Invitation to the Philippines

President invites Pope Benedict XVI to visit the Philippines

President Arroyo met His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican Monday, bringing news of the abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines.

It was the first time the President met the new Pope, who was installed after the death of Pope John Paul II in April 2005.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said Mrs. Arroyo’s meeting with the Pope reaffirms the special ties between the Philippines and the Vatican, which had strengthened over time during the papacy of John Paul II.

He said part of Mrs. Arroyo’s agenda during her audience with the Pope was to extend the country’s invitation for His Holiness to make a state visit to Manila.

The Philippines is the third-largest Catholic country in the world and the largest in Asia.
In her departure statement, Mrs. Arroyo said her decision to sign the bill abolishing the death penalty was “the best pasalubong [gift]” she could offer to the Pope.

“For the first time, I am going to have an audience with Pope Benedict XVI [at the] Vatican, and I will convey to him the support of the entire Filipino nation to his papacy. I also want to thank Congress for giving me the chance to bring to him the best gift our country can give: the abolition of the death penalty,” the President said.


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