Benedict XVI to Repay Bush’s Cordiality

Offering President Unprecedented Welcome

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2008 ( Benedict XVI will welcome U.S. President George Bush on Friday with something of the same unprecedented cordiality the president showed when he received the Pope in the United States last April.

The Holy Father is leaving aside the typical protocol that prescribes receiving heads of state in the pontifical apartments, and will have his meeting with Bush in the Tower of St. John within the Vatican Gardens, the prefecture of the pontifical household announced today in L’Osservatore Romano.

Bush also broke protocol when he welcomed the Pontiff last April 15. Bush, accompanied by his wife and daughter Jenna, went to Andrews Air Force Base to receive the Pope — an honor the president has never given to a visiting head of state. The next day, Benedict XVI’s 81st birthday, the president hosted a celebration in the White House.

The Holy Father’s welcome is meant to repay the president for his cordiality, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said.

Bush will be accompanied by his wife and by Mary Ann Glendon, the U.S. envoy to the Holy See.

After their meeting, the Pope and president will walk through the Vatican Gardens where the Sistine Chapel choir will perform for them.

This will be Bush’s second visit to the Vatican and it takes place as part of a trip to Slovenia, Germany, Italy, France and Britain. The president last visited Benedict XVI in the Vatican in June 2007.

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