Bush meets Catholic Leaders to push faith-based solutions
US President George W. Bush had dinner with a group of bishops in Washington on Thursday to discuss his plans to work with the religious community to implement faith-based solutions to some of America's social problems.
Catholic World News reports that Bush and First Lady Laura Bush dined at the residence of Cardinal-designate Theodore McCarrick of Washington, along with retired Cardinal James Hickey, papal nuncio Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, and Bishop William Lori, recently elevated from auxiliary bishop to bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The Bush administration said the dinner was in part to get acquainted, but also part of Bush's effort to reach out to leaders from various religions before he launches a plan to boost the role of religious-based organizations and charities in tackling the toughest social problems. Bush said he hoped to speak of his plans for reform with the bishops whom he called "men of great faith, of huge compassion for the poor and the oppressed."
Bush plans to set up an Office of Faith-Based Action -- a West Wing office to help religious organizations become eligible for federal funds for their social programs. "His focus is going to be on helping people get through some of the worst problems they face in life -- alcoholism, prisons, children of prisoners, helping people leaving prisons reenter the workforce," presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "This is in many ways the next step in welfare reform."