Beliefnet
The following statement was delivered by President George W. Bush to Pope John Paul II today after their first meeting:

Your Holiness, thank you so much. Mrs. Bush and I are honored to stand with you today. We are grateful for your welcome.

You have been to America many times, and spoken to vast crowds. You have met with four American presidents before me, including my father. In every visit, and every meeting -- including our meeting today -- you have reminded America that we have a special calling to promote justice, and to defend the weak and suffering of the world. We remember your words, and we will always do our best to remember our calling.

Since October of 1978, you have shown the world, not only "the splendor of truth," but the power of truth to overcome evil and redirect the course of history. You have urged men and women of good will to take to their knees before God -- and to stand, unafraid, before tyrants. And this has added greatly to the momentum of freedom in our time.

Where there is oppression, you speak of human rights.

Where there is poverty, you speak of justice and hope.

Where there is ancient hatred, you defend and display a tolerance that reaches beyond every boundary of race and nation and belief.

Where there is great abundance, you remind us that wealth must be matched with compassion and moral purpose.

And always, to all, you have carried the Gospel of life, which welcomes the stranger and protects the weak and innocent.

Every nation, including my own, would benefit from hearing and heeding this message of conscience.

Above all, you have carried the message of the Gospel into 126 nations, and into the Third Millennium, always with courage and confidence. You have brought the love of God into the lives of men. And that good news is needed in every nation and every age.

Thank you again, Your Holiness, for your kindness, and the honor of this meeting.

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