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Philippine president says his faith is stronger since papal visit

Pope Francis with Philippine President Benigno Aquino in January (AP)

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has said his Catholic faith is stronger and remains so, nine months after Pope Francis visited his country.

Aquino was a guest on Tuesday at a two-hour forum in Manila with Philippine-based foreign correspondents.

During the meeting, he told reporters: “Even my own faith has really been strengthened and renewed that there is a Church that is not just talking but actually walking the talk.”

Aquino said he could see the impact the Pope was having on the Church, which he said was playing a more active role “in worldly matters, not just (being) a Church that mouths the nice things, but actually engages everybody into tackling the problems of the day.”

He also remarked on the fact that 78-year-old Pontiff appearing fatigued, yet still toted his black briefcase at the end of a packed five-day visit to the Philippines in January.

“There is so much simplicity in the Pope,” said Aquino. “Even (with) the vestments that keep on flying into … his face, that doesn’t seem to faze him. That carrying of that small bag, by himself, at his age.”

Pope Francis came to the Philippines with the express purpose of showing solidarity with the survivors of the November 2013 Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing.

The typhoon kicked up 15-foot storm surges that struck shores to the east of the Philippines and generated 295-mile per hour winds that swept through the centre of the country.