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Press Release - Pope Francis to Zubiri: protect the family

"Pope Francis asked me to please protect the family, and this is an instruction that I will take to heart."

This was former Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri's summation of his meeting with Pope Francis during a visit to the Vatican on June 5.

Zubiri, a devout Catholic, met with the Pope during the latter's weekly catechesis and prayers for world peace.

The Philippines remains the last country in the world to not recognize divorce. A bill legalizing divorce has currently been approved in the House of Representatives.

"We prayed for our beloved country and for our leaders to always find discernment and to do what is right, even when it is not popular," said Zubiri, who has expressed that while he is open to discussion, he maintains a strong belief in the sanctity and insolubility of marriage.

The senator also had the opportunity to introduce his family to the Pope. The family is one of a handful of guests given a chance to meet and receive a personal blessing from the Pope.

"Meeting our Santo Papa, Lolo Kiko, as a Catholic and a Christian, was the greatest honor of my life, especially since I got to bring my kids along," said Zubiri, who has three young children with his wife Audrey.

Zubiri is in Europe to "take a short sabbatical away from politics," and to spend some "long-promised quality time" with his family.

"This is the first time in two years that I have been able to give my family my undivided attention, and so I really wanted to take them away for some family time - all on my personal expense, of course," the senator said.

"Our Catholic faith is so important to our family, so it was very humbling to have the Pope give us so much of his time and attention. He seemed especially fond of our youngest boy, and even asked him to learn Spanish."

During the meeting, Zubiri explained to the Pope that he is a pro-life and pro-family legislator from the Philippines, to which the Pope responded by asking him to "please protect the family."

"Lolo Kiko is so special to us Filipinos, and I got the feeling that he holds us in a special place in his heart and his prayers as well, as one of the most devoutly Catholic nations in the world," Zubiri said.

"I am