Statement on Meeting of Pope Benedict XVI and President Bush
A joint statement by the White House and Holy See on the Oval Office meeting Wednesday
between Pope Benedict XVI and President Bush:
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
and President George W. Bush met today in the Oval Office of the White House.
Bush, on behalf of all Americans, welcomed the Holy Father, wished him a happy birthday,
and thanked him for the spiritual and moral guidance, which he offers to the whole
human family. The President wished the Pope every success in his Apostolic Journey
and in his address at the United Nations, and expressed appreciation for the Pope's
upcoming visit to "Ground Zero" in New York.
During their meeting, the Holy
Father and the President discussed a number of topics of common interest to the Holy
See and the United States of America, including moral and religious considerations
to which both parties are committed: the respect of the dignity of the human person;
the defense and promotion of life, matrimony and the family; the education of future
generations; human rights and religious freedom; sustainable development and the struggle
against poverty and pandemics, especially in Africa. In regard to the latter, the
Holy Father welcomed the United States' substantial financial contributions in this
area. The two reaffirmed their total rejection of terrorism as well as the manipulation
of religion to justify immoral and violent acts against innocents. They further touched
on the need to confront terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person
and his or her rights.
The Holy Father and the President devoted considerable
time in their discussions to the Middle East, in particular resolving the Israel-Palestinian
conflict in line with the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security,
their mutual support for the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon, and their common
concern for the situation in Iraq and particularly the precarious state of Christian
communities there and elsewhere in the region. The Holy Father and the President expressed
hope for an end to violence and for a prompt and comprehensive solution to the crises
which afflict the region.
The Holy Father and the President also considered
the situation in Latin America with reference, among other matters, to immigrants,
and the need for a coordinated policy regarding immigration, especially their humane
treatment and the well being of their families.