Bush offers St Patrick's Day welcome to Ian Paisley
President Bush has provoked a strong reaction from US Catholics by inviting Ian Paisley to the White House for St Patrick's Day.
Reverend Paisley, noted for his anti-Catholic rhetoric, was invited along with other Irish, British and Northern Irish leaders.
It has shocked America's Catholics who regard Paisley as an anti-Catholic bigot.
Rev Paisley refers to The Pope as the 'great fornicator' and the catholic church the 'mother of all harlots'.
"I can't stand Ian Paisley, he's an anti-Catholic bigot," Republican senator Pete King said. "But he has to be invited with all the elected leaders. There are times when you have to sit down with the devil."
Al O'Hagan, an Irish-American community leader, told New York's Daily News: "He's a bigot, he professes hatred."
A White House official said, "He may decide he doesn't want to come but if he shows up, he's welcome. The President is certainly going to shake his hand."
A spokesman for Rev Paisley confirmed he will go to the White House for a 'private meeting' with George Bush. It is not clear if he will celebrate St Patrick's Day.
In 1988, Paisley interrupted Pope John Paul as he addressed the European Parliament, roaring, "Antichrist! I renounce you and all your cults and creeds."
He has an honourary doctorate from Bob Jones University, South Carolina. The college considers the Catholic Church a cult and until recently banned interracial dating.