For Immediate Release
July 23, 2001
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT BUSH AND HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL IIl
Papal Library, Castel Gandolfo
11:46 A.M. (L)
HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II: Mr. President, it gives me great pleasure to
welcome you on your first visit since you assumed the office of the President of
the United States. I warmly greet the distinguished First Lady and the members
of your entourage. I express heart-felt good wishes that your presidency will
strengthen your country in its commitment to the principles which inspired
American democracy from the beginning, and sustained the nation and its
remarkable growth. These principles remain as valid as ever as you face the
challenges of the new country opening up before us.
Your nation’s founders, conscious of the immense natural and human resources
with which your land has been blessed by the Creator, were guided by a profound
sense of responsibility towards the common good to be pursued in respect for the
God-given dignity and inalienable rights of all. America continues to measure
herself by the nobility of her founding vision in building this society of
liberty, equality and justice under the law. In the century which has just
ended, these same ideals inspired the American people to resist two totalitarian
systems, based on an atheistic vision of man and society.
At the beginning of this new century, which also marks the beginning of the
third millennium of Christianity, the world continues to look to America with
hope. And it does so with an acute awareness of the crisis of values being
experienced in Western society, ever more insecure in the face of the ethical
decisions, indispensable for humanity’s future course.
In recent days, the world’s attention has been focused on the process of
globalization which has so greatly accelerated in the past decade, and which you
and other leaders of the industrialized nations have discussed in Genoa. While
appreciating the opportunities for economic growth and material prosperity,
which this process offers, the Church cannot but express profound concern that
our world continues to be divided no longer by the former political and military
blocs, but by a tragic fault-line between those who can benefit from these
opportunities and those who seem cut off from them.
The revolution of freedom of which I spoke at the United Nations in 1995 must
now be completed by a revolution of opportunity, in which all the world’s people
actively contribute to the economic prosperity and share in its fruits. This
requires leadership by those nations whose religious and cultural traditions
should make them most attentive to the moral dimension of the issues involved.
Respect for human dignity and belief in the equal dignity of all the members
of the human family demand policies aimed at enabling all people to access to
the means required to improve their lives, including the technological means and
skills needed for development. Respect for nature by everyone, a policy of
openness to immigrants, the cancellation or significant reduction of the debt of
poorer nations, the promotion of peace through dialogue and negotiation, the
primacy of the rule of law; these are the priorities which the leaders of the
developed countries cannot disregard. A global world is essentially a world of
solidarity. From this point of view, America, because of her many resources,
cultural traditions and religious values, has a special responsibility.
Respect for human dignity finds one of its highest expressions in religious
freedom. This right is the first listed in your nation’s Bill of Rights, and it
is significant that the promotion of religious freedom continues to be an
important goal of American policy in the international community. I want to
express the appreciation of the whole Catholic Church for America’s commitment
in this regard.
Another area in which political and moral choices have the gravest
consequences for the future of civilization concerns the most fundamental of
human rights, the right to life itself. Experience is already showing how a
tragic coarsening of consciences accompanies the assault on innocent human life
in the womb, leading to accommodation and acquiescence in the face of other
related evils, such as euthanasia, infanticide, and most recently, proposals for
the creation for research purposes of human embryos, destined to destruction in
A free and virtuous society, which America aspires to be, must reject
practices that devalue and violate human life at any stage from conception until
natural death. In defending the right to life, in law and through a vibrant
culture of life, America can show a world the path to a truly humane future in
which man remains the master, not the product of his technology.
Mr. President, as you carry out the tasks of the high office which the
American people have entrusted to you, I assure you of a remembrance in my
prayers. I am confident that under your leadership, your nation will continue to
draw on its heritage and resources to help build a world in which each member of
the human family can flourish and live in a manner worthy of his or her innate
dignity. With these sentiments, I cordially invoke upon you and the beloved
American people, God’s blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.
Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Your Holiness, thank you very much. Mrs. Bush and I are
honored to stand with you today. We’re grateful for your welcome. You’ve been to
America many times, and have spoken to vast crowds. You have met with four
American Presidents before me, including my father. In every visit, and in every
meeting, including our meeting today, you have reminded America that we have a
special calling to promote justice and to defend the weak and suffering of the
world. We remember your words, and we will always do our best to remember our
Since October of 1978, you have shown the world not only the splendor of
truth, but also the power of truth to overcome evil and to redirect the course
of history. You have urged men and women of goodwill to take to their knees
before God, and to stand unafraid before tyrants. And this has added greatly to
the momentum of freedom in our time.
Where there’s oppression, you speak of human rights. Where there’s poverty,
you speak of justice and hope. Where there’s ancient hatred, you defend and
display a tolerance that reaches beyond every boundary of race and nation and
belief. Where there’s great abundance, you remind us that wealth must be matched
with compassion and moral purpose. And always, to all, you have carried the
gospel of life, which welcomes the stranger and protects the weak and the
innocent. Every nation, including my own, benefits from hearing and heeding this
message of conscience.
Above all, you have carried the message of the Gospel into 126 nations, and
into the third millennium, always with courage, and with confidence. You have
brought the love of God into the lives of men, and that good news is needed in
every nation, and every age.
Thank you again, your Holiness, for your kindness, and the honor of this