Bush Looking Forward to Meeting with Pope

«Has Enormous Impact in My Country»

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ROME, JULY 18, 2001 (Zenit.org).- U.S. President George W. Bush says he hopes he can count on John Paul II´s help for his program to reduce poverty and injustice in the world.

On July 23, following the G-8 summit in Genoa, the Holy Father will receive Bush for the first time since the latter took over the White House.

Commenting on his forthcoming meeting with the Holy Father, Bush told the Italian daily La Stampa: «I hope to talk with a man of capital importance, a great world leader, who voices strong convictions. His holiness and influence have been extraordinarily important in fostering liberties.»

«I appreciate his efforts, which are always inspired by a spirit of reconciliation,» Bush said. «The Holy Father has an enormous impact in my country, because he is the leader of the Catholic Church. For example, he is a staunch defender of the right to life and the right to be heard, even for those without a voice. I have profound respect for the Catholic Church and its leadership. I think we will have a cordial and intense conversation.»

When Bush returns to the United States he is expected to decide whether or not to support federal funding for stem cell research involving human embryos.

The two are scheduled to meet at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome. «I will be in the presence of a man of immense depth, an extraordinary moral force,» Bush said. «What he says has consequences throughout the world. I am also happy to return to Rome, where my daughter studied at the American College for six months. I remember when I went to visit her, in the fall of 1998, shortly after my re-election as governor of Texas. It was a fantastic experience. I cannot wait to return.»

Asked for his recipe to defeat poverty, the president replied: «The windows of opportunities must be opened in Genoa so that the United States, our allies and our friends can see and understand better, the problems that afflict the developing countries, and to agree at the G-8 summit on a joint strategy. Whoever is prosperous must have policies to reinforce that prosperity, with fewer taxes, fewer regulations and free trade.»

«In the second place,» he added, «we must work together to give ourselves a common security policy, which will help us to address the challenges of the 21st century. Prosperity for all means a stable and secure world. Along with its friends and allies, the United States must be determined to combat sicknesses and reinforce education.

«Free and prosperous countries, the most fortunate, must work together to increase opportunities for all, fostering trade, education and health.»

In regard to the anti-globalization movement, Bush said that «those who protest in Italy have the right to express their own opinion peacefully, but the latter harm, especially, the cause of the poor.»

«When they protest and condemn trade, they in fact harm the possibilities of growth of developing countries,» he added. «The protesters do not want to harm the possibilities of growth of developing countries. This is fine, but to combat trade with that objective is a mistaken recipe.»

Commenting on groups that favor confrontations and violence, Bush said: «One thing is to attempt an open dialogue on every possible topic, quite another is to strike, destroy and cause damage. Whoever behaves like this, harms poor nations especially.»

«To attempt to freeze trade and impede exchanges, means to trap whole peoples in poverty,» the American leader said. «I am in strong disagreement with those who uphold this ideology. There must be no doubts about the United States´ position. Let [the protesters] go ask the African nations what they want, what their hopes are! They will realize they have very different ideas from their own.»

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