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Bush calls Pope "one of the greatest moral leaders"

US President George Bush has described the Pope as "one of the greatest moral leaders of our time". Later, the Holy Father uttered: "God bless America".

Bush, in Europe for the G8 summit in France, made his comments while visiting Krakow, the Polish city where the Pope was archbishop.

He praised the Pope's vision "that every person must be treated with dignity, because every person is known and loved by God," suggesting his vision brought "fear to tyrants" and "freedom to his beloved country".

Meanwhile the Pope received US Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday.

A Vatican statement said the two discussed the "political and material reconstruction" of Iraq during their long 30 minute meeting.

The pope told Powell that efforts to rebuild Iraq had to have the full backing of the international community and respect fundamental rights, including freedom of religion, it said.

The Pope and Powell also discussed the US "road map" peace plan for the Middle East, which aims to give both Israel and Palestine security and sovereignty.

The Pope, who leaves on Thursday for Croatia, appeared in good form when reporters were ushered in at the end of the audience for Powell. "God bless America," he said as Powell and his delegation took leave of the frescoed chamber in the Apostolic Palace.


Pope Meets Sec. Powell, Talks on Iraq, Mideast "Road Map" (Catholic World News)
Pope, Powell Discuss Iraq and Israel (AP)
Bush urges strong alliance against terror (Financial Times)
Colin Powell to attempt relations patch with Vatican (30/5/03)

3 Jun 2003