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Irenic meeting between Philippine president, new nuncio

January 03, 2018

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte recently received the new apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, at Malacañang Palace in what both parties portrayed as an irenic meeting.

The nation of 104 million, the world’s 13th largest, is 83% Catholic. The Italian prelate previously served as apostolic nuncio to Lebanon (2009-17), and Duterte has clashed with the nation’s hierarchy over contraception and the extrajudicial murder of suspected drug dealers. He has also used vulgar speech in reference to the Pope and the nation’s bishops.

The government said in a statement that Duterte wants stronger relations with the Vatican and that “the Philippines is proud of being the only predominantly Catholic country in Asia,” according to a Manila newspaper summary.

L’Osservatore Romano characterized the meeting as cordial and said that the parties discussed poverty, ecological threats, corruption, crime, and fundamentalist groups (a likely reference to Islamist terrorism). “The president has recognized in all of these areas the richness of the teaching and work of the Church, whose principles he shares,” the Vatican newspaper reported.

 
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