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PIA Press Release

Arroyo to see Pope Monday

Manila (4 June) -- After attending the canonization of Marie Eugenie Milleret, the French founder of the Religious of the Assumption, and three other new saints of the Catholic Church in St. Peter's Square, President Macapagal-Arroyo met with the Filipino community here and joined 1,500 Filipino pilgrims in a musical in honor of Marie Eugenie.

The President caps her visit to the Vatican with an audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday.

It will be Ms Arroyo's second meeting with the Pope since June 2006, when she brought the new law abolishing the death penalty in the Philippines as her gift to the pontiff.

The one-on-one meeting is scheduled at 11 a.m. Monday, Rome time, at the Sala del Torno at the Apostolic Palace. After the papal audience, Ms Arroyo will have a meeting with his eminence Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the cardinal secretary of state in his office at the Vatican.

"As a daughter of the Church, she will have to pay respects to the Holy Father," Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Leonida Vera said. She could not say what the President would take up with the Pope.

The President is one of four heads of state who attended the mass and canonization rites for the four new saints at St. Peter's Square presided by Pope Benedict XVI.

After the two-hour solemn rites, the President had lunch with the Assumption Committee for the Canonization of Marie Eugenie at Hotel Michaelangelo.

She was scheduled to deliver a speech in a gathering of the Filipino community at the Fontifico Collegio Filipino.

After the Filipino community gathering, Ms Arroyo was set to join the general council of all the pilgrims at the Sala Paolo VI in the Vatican where a musical dubbed "The Youth Pays Homage to Marie Eugenie" was to be presented.

After her meeting with the Pope on Monday morning, the President will leave for Portugal where she will hear mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima on the site where the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in 1917.

Ms Arroyo will also have a meeting with the president of Portugal before leaving for China on June 5 for a two-day visit to fulfill engagements she was unable to do last May due to the emergency heart surgery of her husband. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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