"Pu__ ___ __ Pope," oh my, I can't even write it. In November 2015, then just a mere prospect of a presidential candidate Duterte uttered the equivalent of the "F" word to the head of the Catholic Church. If this were the middle ages that would have spurred a crusade. But the cursing and iconoclast-thinking candidate out to make a point that decent is overrated -- and incompetent -- would not be denied his freedom of speech. He would speak his mind, curse the traffic and the pope who caused it, condemned to hell if he had to, but no moral code was going to make him blip what his mouth wanted to say about the hellish traffic that Pope Francis caused when he visited the Republic in January 2015. Pope Francis seemed unmindful of the raucous. And I could imagine the humble Pope even offering an apology for the incident had he been informed about it until -- bowed by the pressure of his handlers who were probably led by what could be imagined as septuagenarian members of the Catholic Women's League -- candidate Duterte wrote an apology to the Vatican and to the Catholic Bishop of Bacolod, and vowing to donate a thousand pesos to Caritas Davao for every curse word he said as an act of contrition. The Vatican accepted the apology and said, "The Holy Father offers the assurance of prayers for you, as he invokes upon you the divine blessings of wisdom and peace." That was April 2016, and the matter was settled once and for all by an overwhelming vote of the Catholic and non-Catholic majority in favor of candidate Duterte in the May 2016 elections.
("Bago" by Celeste Lecaroz, acrylic on canvas, 4 feet by 4 feet)
Still, I wonder if the Pope's prayers for candidate Duterte had a hand in the elections -- after all candidate Duterte was the only one who had the benefit of papal prayers among the presidential candidates in spite of being depicted by the other candidates as a foul-mouthed murderous man. If so, it gave a hint of how that goody-goody brother of the prodigal son felt after the rich father gave the son a feast despite living a reckless life -- a parable regularly read in Catholic churches that sidelights an earthly phenomenon in which nice guys finish last and the bad boys have all the fun.
("Viva Il Papa" by Celeste Lecaroz, acrylic on canvas, 4 feet by 4 feet)
Nonetheless, if and when Pope Francis meets Pres. Duterte, it wouldn't be just them meeting, but the Vatican and this Republic, the nation states that they represent, no cursing or crusades expected. Wouldn't that be nice? But nice, like decency, is overrated. For ultimately, as in the parable, we find out that the key to most everything is discarding our Manichean world view about being nice, decent, or of good behavior for it simply misses the point.