Bush Calls John Paul II "One of the Greatest Moral Leaders of Our Time"

Statements in Krakow on the Eve of Colin Powell’s Visit to the Vatican

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KRAKOW, Poland, JUNE 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- U.S. President George W. Bush described John Paul II as «one of the greatest moral leaders of our time,» on the eve of Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit to the Vatican.

On Saturday, while visiting Krakow, the city of which Karol Wojtyla was archbishop, the U.S. president said amid applause: «At Wawel Cathedral in 1978, a Polish cardinal began his journey to a conclave in Rome, and entered history as Pope John Paul II — one of the greatest moral leaders of our time.»

Further on in his speech, delivered at Wawel Royal Castle, Bush added: «Through the years of the Second World War, another legacy of the 20th century was unfolding, here in this city of Krakow.»

«A young seminarian, Karol Wojtyla, saw the swastika flag flying over the ramparts of Wawel Castle,» Bush said. «He shared the suffering of his people and was put into forced labor. From this priest’s experience and faith came a vision: that every person must be treated with dignity, because every person is known and loved by God.»

«In time, this man’s vision and this man’s courage would bring fear to tyrants and freedom to his beloved country, and liberation to half a continent,» the president added. «To this very hour, Pope John Paul II speaks for the dignity of every life and expresses the highest aspirations of the culture we share.»

Bush is in Europe for the Group of Eight nations summit in Evian, France. Colin Powell will be received in audience on Monday by John Paul II to speak about the renewal of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as about the Mideast in general, in the wake of the Iraqi war.

The U.S. secretary of state is expected to report on the provisions of the application of the «road map» toward peace, supported by the United States, Russia, Europe and the United Nations.

During the visit, there will also be discussions on the process of reconstruction and pacification of Iraq after the war, which Rome and Washington disagreed over.

Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council «Cor Unum,» celebrated Mass today in Baghdad’s cathedral. He is in Iraq at the request of the Pope, to coordinate Catholics’ contribution to the country’s reconstruction.

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