Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Papa in America

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush flank Pope Benedict XVI as he waves to the crowd from the balcony of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 16, 2008, during an arrival ceremony. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Bush welcomes pope and says US is open to his message

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - An enthralled South Lawn crowd of more than 9,000 sang "Happy Birthday" to Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday — twice — and President Bush said that the first papal White House visit in 29 years was a reminder for Americans to "distinguish between simple right and wrong."

... The pontiff turned 81 Wednesday, the first full day of his first trip to the United States as leader of the world's Roman Catholics. His 90-minute stay at the White House — only the second ever by a pope — was accompanied by the kind of pomp and pageantry rarely seen even on grounds accustomed to routinely welcoming royalty and the world's most important leaders...

The love in the audience was evident. A few yelled "Viva il Papa." Four toddlers sat on the grass with handmade signs, one reading "We love you pope of hope" and the other showing a birthday cake — chocolate — with an 81 on it. "Happy Birthday" was sung spontaneously at first early in the ceremony, and a formal, more full-throated version came at the end...

...But while acting the proud father, Bush also seemed to suggest that America could use a little tough talking-to by the pontiff.

"In a world where some treat life as something to be debased and discarded, we need your message that all human life is sacred and that each of us is willed, each of us is loved, and each of us is necessary," the president said, drawing sustained applause from the lawn.

Full article...

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