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

"It gives me great pleasure to welcome you on your first visit since you assumed the office of president of the United States. I warmly greet the distinguished first lady and the members of your entourage. I express heartfelt good wishes that your presidency will strengthen your country in its commitment to the principles which inspired American democracy from the beginning, and sustained the nation in its remarkable growth. These principles remain as valid as ever, as you face the challenges of the new century opening up before us.

Your nation's founders, conscious of the immense natural and human resources with which your land had been blessed by the Creator, were guided by a profound sense of responsibility towards the common good, to be pursued in respect for

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  • the God-given dignity and inalienable rights of all. America continues to measure herself by the nobility of her founding vision in building a society of liberty, equality and justice under the law. In the century which has just ended, these same ideals inspired the American people to resist two totalitarian systems based on an atheistic vision of man and society.

    At the beginning of this new century, which also marks the beginning of the third millennium of Christianity, the world continues to look to America with hope. Yet it does so with an acute awareness of the crisis of values being experienced in Western society, ever more insecure in the face of the ethical decisions indispensable for humanity's future course.

    In recent days, the world's attention has been focused on the process of globalization which has so greatly accelerated in the past decade, and which you and other leaders of the industrialized nations have discussed in Genoa. While appreciating the opportunities for economic growth and material prosperity which this process offers, the Church cannot but express profound concern that our world continues to be divided, no longer by the former political and military blocs, but by a tragic fault line between those who can benefit from these opportunities and those who seem cut off from them.

    The revolution of freedom of which I spoke at the United Nations in 1995 must now be completed by a revolution of opportunity, in which all the world's peoples actively contribute to economic prosperity and share in its fruits. This requires leadership by those nations whose religious and cultural traditions should make them most attentive to the moral dimension of the issues involved.

    Respect for human dignity and belief in the equal dignity of all the members of the human family demand policies aimed at enabling all peoples to have access to the means required to improve their lives, including the

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