This morning, Saturday June 9 2007, President George W. Bush of the United States of America was received in audience by His Holiness Benedict XVI. The president subsequently went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
In the course of the cordial discussions, the main themes of the international political situation were considered. On the question of the Middle East, particular attention was given to the Israeli-Palestinian question, to Lebanon, to the worrying situation in Iraq, and to the critical conditions being experienced by the Christian communities. On the part of the Holy See, hope was once again expressed in a "regional" and "negotiated" solution to the conflicts and crises afflicting the region. Discussions also turned to the question of Africa and its development, also with reference to Darfur, and there was an exchange of opinions on Latin America.
Finally contemporary moral and religious issues were examined, among them those concerning human rights and religious freedom, the defense and promotion of life, marriage and the family, the education of the young and sustainable development.
Catholic News Service has the best article on the meeting that I have come across so far. Here are some excerpts:
The pope and president looked relaxed as they greeted each other and spoke briefly before reporters before their 35-minute private encounter June 9. Bush later held a separate 40-minute meeting with the Vatican’s top foreign policy officials.
Before the president’s visit, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, went out of his way to praise Bush for his position on abortion and for “positive initiatives in favor of the defense of life from conception.”
Bush arrived at the Vatican under very heavy security. His motorcade entered St. Peter’s Square from a side street instead of along Via della Conciliazione, the wide avenue leading to the Vatican, which had been cleared of cars and was lined with curious onlookers.
In the sunny St. Damasus Courtyard, the president was greeted by U.S. Archbishop James Harvey, one of the pope’s private secretaries, who escorted him past a picket of Swiss Guards and up an elevator to the fourth floor of the Apostolic Palace for the papal audience.
The pope smiled broadly as he greeted Bush just outside his private library. The two men shook hands, and the pope ushered the president to a large desk. Reporters and photographers were allowed to stay for the first minute of the encounter.
“It’s good to be with you sir,” Bush said as he sat down opposite the pope, crossing his legs and leaning back in a white chair.
“You come from the conference in Heiligendamm?” the pope said, referring to the G8 meeting in Germany.
“I did, your old country. And it was successful,” the president replied.
“Successful? You had some decisions? It’s not so easy,” the pope said. He said it was important for humanity that conferences like this produce decisions.
“It was, you know, a lot of different opinions. But it was good. It was good,” Bush said.
Read the complete article here.