It was wonderful to have this great world religious leader express his appreciation for so many things we take for granted," Mary Ann Glendon told Catholic News Service April 16.
"From the inside, we Americans read the Pew polls and see the glass half-empty," she said.
But the pope, in his speech to the president, reminded people that "we have many different religions that coexist in harmony and flourish in this kind of political arrangement," she said.
That kind of affirmation was special, she said. So was the fact that the pope and the president both seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the occasion.
Glendon noted that the speeches of the two leaders overlapped on several key issues, especially where Bush echoed some of the pope's main themes -- on the need for love, hope and respect for life.
"The president, I think, was particularly eloquent today. I think it was one of the best talks he's ever given," she said.
Lopez: Is Benedict’s vision of human rights different than the one that, say, Amnesty International or the U.N.’s human-rights embody?
Glendon: The pope has spelled out his vision of human rights pretty clearly: They will be precarious unless they can be grounded in acceptance of universal moral principles that are inscribed in human nature. Not every desire or agenda item of this or that interest group is a human right. If a right is fundamental, it is not an item on a menu from which one can pick and choose. Human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent, but there can be different ways of bringing them to life — a “legitimate pluralism in forms of freedom.”