GMA Invites Pope to Visit RP; Pontiff Expresses Approval of Pro-Life Policies President's Party Flies to Spain Today

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Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING

VATICAN (via PLDT) -- President Arroyo yesterday invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit the Philippines, the third largest Catholic country in the world and the largest in Asia, as she extended the great love of the Filipino nation for him.

The President, who is on a weeklong European tour on life, solidarity and prosperity, conveyed the invitation of the Filipino people to the Pope during their 30-minute meeting at the Apostolic Palace here.

Arroyo said she felt "encouraged and inspired" after the Pope expressed support for the way she is running the government, particularly its adherence to the doctrines of the Catholic Church, as well as for her proposed constitutional reforms.

The President said the Pope commended her government for its pro-life policies against death penalty, abortion, divorce, as well as preferential option for the poor during their cordial talks.

"We are lucky to have a Pope who understands the country and the people. I told him the Filipinos love him very much and are awaiting for his visit in the Philippines," she said in an interview with NBN Channel 4 at the St. Regis Hotel after the meeting.

The President said the Pope was knowledgeable and "very interested" about the happenings in the country, adding the Pontiff led the conversation most of the time. …