MANILA - The camp of presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Monday released a letter from a representative of Pope Francis in response to the mayor's apology for cursing the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Duterte said on Sunday that he wrote the Vatican to apologize for his irate comments about the traffic jam caused by the Pope's Philippine visit in January 2015.
READ: Duterte: Vatican has forgiven me for 'cursing' Pope
Without detailing the contents of Holy See's response, Duterte claimed that Pope Francis forgave him for his remarks.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Christopher Bong Go, an executive assistant of Duterte, shared the cover letter of the Pope's reply, written by Italian Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu.
Becciu is described in a National Catholic Reporter article as the substitute or top official for church internal affairs at the Vatican.
Becciu's letter dated February 24 says that Pope Francis had received Duterte's letter.
"His Holiness Pope Francis has received your letter of 21 January 2016, and he has asked me to respond on his behalf," Becciu wrote.
"He appreciates the sentiment which you expressed. The Holy Father offers the assurance of his prayers for you, as he invokes upon you the divine blessings of wisdom and peace."
The 71-year-old mayor said he will not use the letter to gain votes, and will only make it public after the May 9 elections.
Duterte made his controversial remarks about Pope Francis during an expletive-laden speech when he was formally declared PDP-Laban standard-bearer in November 2015.
READ: Duterte under fire for cursing Pope Francis
Duterte has stressed that it was not Pope Francis whom he cursed at, but the way the government handled the security preparations that led to closure of some roads.
(Duterte: I can never curse my Pope)
Duterte has since then vowed to avoid using curse words.