Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The White House Welcoming Ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI

What's Happening Today: Wednesday, April 16
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. - Meeting with the President at the White House
NOTE: This post will be updated as more information becomes available on this topic.

President George Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush welcome Pope Benedict XVI to the White House. The welcome will be on the South Lawn of the White House before approximately 5,000 people. This is only the second time in history that a pontiff has visited the White House.

The White House Welcoming Ceremony: Sequence of Events:

South Lawn Arrival Ceremony for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

April 16, 2008 at 10:30 a.m. EDT

  • His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI arrives on the South Lawn and is greeted by the President and Mrs. Bush.
  • The President introduces His Holiness to U.S. Delegation members including the Vice President, Mrs. Lynne Cheney, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.
  • The Marine Band performs the National Anthem of the Holy See. There will be a simultaneous 21-gun salute followed by the playing of the National Anthem of the United States of America.
  • Kathleen Battle performs “The Lord’s Prayer.”
  • The President delivers remarks.
  • His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI delivers remarks.
  • U.S. Army Chorus performs “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

The President Meets with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Oval Office, The White House

April 16, 2008 at 11:15 a.m. EDT

  • Following the ceremony, the President and His Holiness walk along the Rose Garden Colonnade to the Oval Office.
  • The President and His Holiness participate in a Meeting in the Oval Office.
  • At 12:05 p.m., His Holiness departs the South Lawn aboard the Popemobile and heads west on Pennsylvania Avenue.


President Bush welcomes Pope Benedict at White House Catholic News Agency April 16, 2008:

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. During the reception, the Pontiff described the goal of his visit to bring hope to American Catholics and strengthen them to increasingly contribute to the life of the United States.

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 expressing his pleasure to be present in the United States as a guest and indicated his, “great respect for this pluralistic society.” Pope Benedict also stated his goal for the visit, “As I begin my visit, I trust that my presence will be a source of renewal and hope for the Church in the United States, and strengthen the resolve of Catholics to contribute ever more responsibly to the life of this nation, of which they are proud to be citizens.”

In his remarks, the Holy Father also indicated his expectations of meeting with not only the American Catholic community, but with other Christian communities and representatives of the many religious traditions present in this country.

The Pope then continued to elaborate on the importance of freedom in the history of the United States. “Freedom is not only a gift, but a summons to personal responsibility.” He continued to illustrate the actions necessary to protect freedom and quoted from Spe Salvi, 24…” In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out for each generation and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good.”

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.

Pope, Bush discuss fighting terrorism while respecting human rights, by John Thavis (Catholic News Agency):

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a meeting at the White House, Pope Benedict XVI and President George W. Bush discussed the problem of terrorism and how to confront it while respecting human rights.

The two leaders also expressed their joint concern for the protection of human life, marriage and the family, according to a statement issued after a private meeting April 16.

"The two reaffirmed their total rejection of terrorism as well as the manipulation of religion to justify immoral and violent acts against innocents," the statement said.

"They further touched on the need to confront terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person and his or her rights," it said.

Following the meeting the White House and the Vatican issued a joint statement:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and President George W. Bush met today in the Oval Office of the White House.

President Bush, on behalf of all Americans, welcomed the Holy Father, wished him a happy birthday, and thanked him for the spiritual and moral guidance, which he offers to the whole human family. The President wished the Pope every success in his Apostolic Journey and in his address at the United Nations, and expressed appreciation for the Pope's upcoming visit to "Ground Zero" in New York.

During their meeting, the Holy Father and the President discussed a number of topics of common interest to the Holy See and the United States of America, including moral and religious considerations to which both parties are committed: the respect of the dignity of the human person; the defense and promotion of life, matrimony and the family; the education of future generations; human rights and religious freedom; sustainable development and the struggle against poverty and pandemics, especially in Africa. In regard to the latter, the Holy Father welcomed the United States' substantial financial contributions in this area. The two reaffirmed their total rejection of terrorism as well as the manipulation of religion to justify immoral and violent acts against innocents. They further touched on the need to confront terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person and his or her rights.

The Holy Father and the President devoted considerable time in their discussions to the Middle East, in particular resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict in line with the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security, their mutual support for the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon, and their common concern for the situation in Iraq and particularly the precarious state of Christian communities there and elsewhere in the region. The Holy Father and the President expressed hope for an end to violence and for a prompt and comprehensive solution to the crises which afflict the region.

The Holy Father and the President also considered the situation in Latin America with reference, among other matters, to immigrants, and the need for a coordinated policy regarding immigration, especially their humane treatment and the well being of their families.