Sunday, March 30, 2008

This Should Be an Interesting Meeting
Pope Benedict XVI, President Bush To Meet At White House Print
pv_english_color.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C. (USCCB)—Pope Benedict XVI will visit the White House, April 16, as part of his visit to Washington and New York.

This is the second visit of a pope to the White House. Pope John Paul II visited President and Mrs. Carter at the White House in October 1979 on the final leg of a six-city United States tour. Pope Benedict will visit President and Mrs. Bush on April 16, the pope's birthday and the first full day of his six-day visit to the United States.

The White House announced that the pope and president will continue discussions they began during President Bush's June 2007 visit to the Vatican, when they discussed their shared commitment to "the importance of faith and reason in reaching common goals." These goals, said the White House, include "advancing peace throughout the Middle East and other troubled regions, promoting inter-faith understanding, and strengthening human rights and freedom, especially religious liberty, around the world."

Pope Benedict XVI will be greeted by President and Mrs. Bush at the South Portico. The president and pope will deliver prepared remarks on the South Lawn and then enter the White House for a private meeting in the Oval Office.

In 1979, Pope John Paul II was greeted by President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter at the North Portico. The pope and president made a few brief "informal" remarks, then proceeded indoors to the Blue Room for a welcome reception held in the manner reserved for visiting heads of state. Following the reception, Pope John Paul and President Carter adjourned to the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room for private meetings.

Historical notes from President Carter indicate that he and the pope discussed international affairs, in particular, situations then underway in the Middle East, Philippines, South Korea, China, and Europe.
I'm sure the Holy Father and W. will have some good discussion about a number of topics of common interest. I'd really be interested in hearing if their discussion extends to personal spiritual matters. You never know -- Tony Blair recently converted to the Church. And, as you might know, W.'s sister-in-law is reportedly a devout Catholic. She's likely been availing herself of some pretty powerful intercessors on the president's behalf. In fact, I seem to recall -- why, yes, here it is -- a picture of Bush with then-Supreme Court nominee John Roberts that shows (though its hard to see here) an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the table between them.

You know, Ronald Reagan, though not a Catholic, was reportedly tight with JPII. I'll bet they were -- they were two giants of the 20th century and collaborated in bringing down one of the greatest evils of the century. I'm sure defeating Communism gave them ample opportunity to take each other's measure and form the basis for a relationship of mutual respect and friendship. I'm sure it was not often JPII encountered a man of similar stature to himself.

Reagan was also very fond of Mother Teresa. She visited Ron and Nancy after the assassination attempt on Reagan. According to Dinesh D'Souza's biography of Reagan, entitled "Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader", the assassination attempt "infused Reagan with a sense of mortality and mission." ... The late Mother Teresa, who visited the White House that June, told Reagan, "you have suffered the passion of the cross and received grace. There is a purpose to this. Because of your suffering and pain you will now understand the suffering and pain of the world. This has happened to you at this time because your country and the world need you." Reagan was speechless. Nancy Reagan wept."

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