Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The Pope and Mr Bush have both agreements and differences. Thousands of guests have welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to the White House for his meeting with President George W Bush.
The Pope was greeted with a singing of Happy Birthday on the day he turned 81.
Mr Bush said the Pope's message that "God is love" was needed to "save man from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism".
Pope Benedict said he had come as a friend of the US and urged Americans to use their faith to inspire "reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue".
This was the first visit by a pope to the White House in almost 30 years.
There were huge cheers as the Pope and Mr Bush took the podium for the national anthems of the Holy See and the US.
I am confident that the American people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an inspiration
Pope Benedict XVI

The Pope was treated to two Happy Birthdays, the first an impromptu rendition before a more formal chorus later. Famed soprano Kathleen Battle also sang The Lord's Prayer.
Mr Bush quoted St Augustine in greeting the Pope with the words "peace be with you".
He said the US was honoured that the Pope was spending his "special day" with Americans.
Mr Bush said the US was "fully modern but guided by ancient and eternal truths".
Mr Bush added: "In a world where some evoke the name of God to justify acts of terror and murder and hate, we need your message that God is love."
Such a message would "save man from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism," he said.

15 Apr: Arrives at Andrews Air Force Base
16 Apr: White House luncheon; talks with Mr Bush. Parade. Prayer service in Washington (evening)
17 Apr: Washington Mass; addresses Catholic University; interfaith meeting
18 Apr: Addresses UN
19 Apr: New York Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral
20 Apr: Ground Zero visit; Yankee Stadium Mass

Mr Bush added: "In a world where some no longer believe that we can distinguish between simple right and wrong, we need your message to reject this dictatorship of relativism."
The Pope responded by saying he came as "a friend of the US".
He praised Americans for their "concern for the greater human family" and hoped this would "continue to find expression in support for the patient efforts of international diplomacy to resolve conflicts".
The Pope added: "I am confident that the American people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue in the effort to build a more humane and free society."
He concluded: "God bless America".
Common ground
The pontiff has now left the White House for a public parade in Washington in his Popemobile.
In the private talks, the Pope was expected to bring up with President Bush the dangers of family break-ups caused by mass migration of people from Latin America seeking jobs and new lives in the US.
Other areas of disagreement have been the death penalty and the US trade embargo on Cuba.
However, there is also much common ground, including expanding religious tolerance and curbing extremism, and on areas including Africa and Lebanon.
Both leaders also oppose embryonic stem cell research.
The issue of sex abuse among clergy was also expected to be a topic of discussion but White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said it was not "necessarily on the president's top priorities".
BBC Rome correspondent David Willey, who is travelling with the pontiff, says that on his flight to the US, the Pope said he was "deeply ashamed" by the child abuse scandal.
"It is more important to have good priests than many priests. We will do everything possible to heal this wound."
In recent years, the US Catholic Church, which has around 65 million followers, has paid $2bn (£1bn) to settle clergy sexual abuse cases.

Our correspondent says Mr Bush wanted Pope Benedict to attend a gala birthday dinner at the White House, but this was declined in favour of the private luncheon party.
The White House will proceed with its gala dinner on Wednesday evening, although the Pope will attend a prayer service in Washington instead.
The Pope will then celebrate a Mass for 48,000 people in Washington on Thursday and another later at Yankee Stadium in New York. He will also address the UN General Assembly.
On Sunday he will visit the site of the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York.



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