Pope Francis extends ‘very warm’ greetings to Filipinos

Published December 14, 2020, 9:19 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Pope Francis has sent his “very warm” greetings to the Filipino nation and continued to cherish his 2015 visit to the Philippines, according to his papal representative to Manila.

Pope Francis

New Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Charles John Brown conveyed the Pope’s message and mentioned the “excellent relations” between the Holy See and the Philippines during the presentation of his credentials to President Duterte in Malacañang.

The US-born archbishop arrived in Manila late last month to start his stint as head of the Holy See’s diplomatic mission to the Philippines.

“Mr. President, allow me to convey to you and to all the people of the Republic of the Philippines the very warm personal greetings of His Holiness Pope Francis,” the papal nuncio said while Duterte attended the Palace event via video conference from the Malago clubhouse.

“As all of us remember so well, Pope Francis visited your nation six years ago – almost six years ago – in January 2015. I know that his visit has remained very much alive in his heart and his mind in these intervening years,” he said.

Pope Francis embarked on a five-day historic visit to the Philippines in January 2015, promoting the message of protection of the family as well as promotion of social justice and compassion for the poor when he addressed large jubilant crowds. When he spoke before government leaders in Malacañang then, the pontiff issued an appeal to shun corruption and end social inequalities.

As he starts his diplomatic stint in the country, Brown said he looks forward to enhancing the relations between the Holy See and the Philippines. He noted that 2021 will mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the Philippines.

“Certainly much has changed in the world in the 70 years since Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi became the first Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines on April 9th 1951. But what has endured are the excellent relations which exist between the Holy See and the Philippines,” he said.

“On my part, I look forward with enthusiasm to strengthening and deepening the high level of cooperation which already exists between us, especially through our mutual commitment to the common good and to the promotion of the spiritual and moral values which provide every society with its solid foundation,” he said.

In presenting his credentials to the President, Brown noted that his assignment in Manila comes amid the coronavirus pandemic which he said has altered the way people live and interact with one another including diplomatic practice. “Let us pray to God for a speedy end to this pandemic,” he added.

He also echoed the Pope’s message when he visited Malacañang five years ago. He said the Pope expressed hope that God will continue “to bless the government and the people of the Philippines in the path of authentic human progress, harmony and peace.”

Working closely with Vatican

President Duterte said the Philippines is committed to work closely with the Vatican in advancing the protection of migrants as well as action to address climate change.

The President also cited the “warm and close” diplomatic ties between the country and the Holy See while welcoming the new Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines in Malacañang.

“Next year we will be celebrating 70 years of warm and close diplomatic ties and 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. I look forward to working closely with the Holy See to further advance our shared advances in migrant protection and climate action,” Duterte said.

“For the Philippines, these are the issues which are a matter of uplifting dignity and securing the lives of most disadvantaged,” he added.

Duterte expressed appreciation to the Holy See’s call for the respect for life and dignity of migrants regardless of status. He noted that around 10 million Filipinos are living and working abroad with nearly 3,500 in the Vatican.

He also lauded the Pope’s declaration of a global climate emergency as well as the need for a collective response anchored on equity and social justice.