16-April-2008 -- Catholic News Agency |

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President Bush welcomes Pope Benedict at White House

Washington DC, Apr 16, 2008 / 10:21 am (CNA).- This morning Pope Benedict was officially welcomed to the United States by President Bush and 12,000 other guests at the White House.

In his opening remarks, President Bush highlighted the religious roots of the United States and the values of defending life and religious freedom. He also told the Pope that the U.S. needs his message and encouragement in fostering these values.

The Holy Father responded by examining the religious grounding of the American Declaration of Independence, the civil rights movement, and by saying that “Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility.”

Pope Benedict concluded his address with “as I begin my visit to the United States, I express once more my gratitude for your invitation, my joy to be in your midst, and my fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this nation and its people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace. God bless America!”

Following the address, Pope Benedict was treated to a rendition of “Happy Birthday”, after which he and President Bush met privately.

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