The inalienable rights of the human person and the responsibilities of freedom were themes in His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks when President George W. Bush welcomed him to the White House, on April 16.
The gathering at the White House was part of Pope Benedict’s first visit to the United States as pontiff. At the welcome ceremony on the South Lawn, President Bush told the Pope that American respect for all religions was “one of our country’s greatest strengths.”
“We believe in religious liberty. We also believe that a love for freedom and a common moral law are written into every human heart, and that these constitute the firm foundation on which any successful free society must be built.”
In front of a crowd numbering over 13,000, President Bush said that America and the world need a “message of hope.”
“In a world where some invoke the name of God to justify acts of terror and murder and hate, we need your message that “God is love.” And embracing this love is the surest way to save men from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism. In a world where some treat life as something to be debased and discarded, we need your message that all human life is sacred and that each of us is willed, each of us is loved.”
The Pope said he had great respect for the U.S. as a “vast pluralistic society”. He called freedom a “summons to personal responsibility”:
“On this, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity.”
President George W. Bush told Pope Benedict XVI, “In a world where some see freedom as simply the right to do as they wish, we need your message that true liberty requires us to live our freedom not just for ourselves, but ‘in a spirit of mutual support.’”