President Bush travels to Europe from June 9th to the 16th, 2008. While he's over there, he's stopping in at the Vatican to meet with Pope Benedict on June 13. It's the third time the two men have
met officially, and Mr. Bush’s fifth visit to the
"....there is reason to believe that Benedict, despite some important policy differences with the president (most notably over Iraq), feels a genuine affinity with Bush as both a man and a leader."
"Benedict, who has warned against the increasing secularization of Europe and praised the prominent role of religion in American public life, is likely to appreciate a head of state who is 'not afraid to express his faith as a Christian,' said the Rev. Joseph Fessio, a former student of the pope who now runs Ignatius Press, Benedict's principal English-language publisher."
"In the president, the pope finds a key supporter of the Catholic church's positions on such controversial questions as abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage. Bush's arguments have frequently echoed Benedict's appeals to 'natural law' and even employ the terms of Catholic social doctrine (despite the fact that the president is a Methodist)."
"Nowhere has the congruence of their thinking been clearer than at April's welcoming ceremony at the White House, when Bush cited Benedict's denunciation of the 'dictatorship of relativism,' and the pope noted the importance of American religiosity as inspiration for abolitionism and the civil rights movement."
"To which Bush replied, 'Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech.' "
I like the body language in this photo, the mirroring of their hands and legs, both men leaning slightly towards each other (photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images).
Two of my favorite leaders apparently share a personal and spiritual bond, I like it.
UPDATE, 6-8-08: Papa Ratzi to host President Bush in medieval tower:
"Pope Benedict will unusually host talks with U.S. President George W. Bush in a restored medieval tower on Friday, to repay him for a warm reception at the White House, thesaid."
"...St. John's Tower is a round structure on a hilltop inside the Vatican gardens that is sometimes used as a residence for important guests."
"After their private talks, Bush and the pope will stroll in the gardens to see a statue of the Madonna."