WASHINGTON, D.C., MAR. 23, 2001 (Zenit.org).- President George W. Bush visited Catholic University of America in northeast Washington on Thursday with a salute to John Paul II and a plea to “defend and love the innocent child waiting to be born.”
Bush´s pro-life remarks, part of a speech at the dedication of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, across the street from the college campus, produced a long standing ovation from the crowd, the Washington Post reported.
“On his four pilgrimages to America, he has spoken with wisdom and feeling about our strengths and our flaws, our successes and our needs,” Bush told the crowd of Catholic leaders. “And he is never more eloquent than when he speaks for a culture of life.” Such a culture, Bush said, makes room for the stranger, comforts the sick, cares for the aged, welcomes immigrants, teaches children to be gentle and loves the unborn.
The Post noted that he made no reference to one of the Holy Father´s most prominent lectures to Americans: opposition to the death penalty, which Bush supports.
On Thursday, Bush, a Methodist, spoke of the Pope´s humanitarian efforts and travels to 123 countries, as well as his visit to a synagogue and an Islamic country. “His is not the power of armies or technology or wealth,” the president said. “It is the unexpected power of a baby in a stable, of a man on a cross, of a simple fisherman who carried a message of hope to Rome.”
After cutting a ribbon with Cardinal Adam J. Maida, archbishop of Detroit, Michigan, and head of the foundation that built the museum, Bush took a brief tour of the $65 million facility, which houses Vatican art, interactive exhibits and a center for scholars.
The night before the dedication, Bush hosted a delegation of U.S. Catholic cardinals, bishops and lay leaders at the White House as part of the festivities surrounding the cultural center.
Bush told his guests: “I´ve been struck by a lot of things as I´ve had the opportunity to meet the leadership of the Catholic Church. I think the thing that has captured my heart the most is the not only universal care for the weak and the suffering, but also the strong focus on making sure every child is educated.
“All of you are part of the humanizing mission which is part of the ´great commission´ and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, which we will dedicate tomorrow, will bring this message to generations of Americans in this capital of our nation. The best way to honor Pope John Paul II, truly one of the great men, is to take his teaching seriously; is to listen to his words and put his words and teachings into action here in America. This is a challenge we must accept.”