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Published:April 16th, 2008 11:11 EST
President Bush considers counsel of Pope Benedict

President Bush considers counsel of Pope Benedict

By SOP newswire

Pope Benedict has urged President Bush to use international diplomacy to resolve conflicts, during a speech at a lavish ceremony at the White House.

The pope spoke more about democracy than about religion in his address to President Bush and thousands of people in Washington Wednesday.

Pope Benedict said democracy can only flourish when political leaders are guided by truth and wisdom. And he said the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever.

President Bush spoke primarily about religious freedom. He said in a time of terrorism and hate, Americans need the pope's message that God is love, and that all human life is sacred.

After the ceremony, the men talked privately in the Oval Office.

Later today, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church will address 300 U.S. bishops at a basilica in Washington, D.C.

Pope Benedict is only the second pontiff to visit the White House. While there today, 9,000 guests, including Cabinet members, nuns and priests, spontaneously sang "Happy Birthday" in celebration of the pope's 81st birthday.

He is to hold open-air Masses in Washington and New York during his six-day visit. He will address leaders of Catholic colleges, speak at the United Nations, and visit the site of the former World Trade Center, which was destroyed by a terrorist attack in 2001.

Pope Benedict also will face the challenge of addressing the sexual abuse of thousands of children by U.S. Roman Catholic priests across the country.

The church has paid $2 billion in compensation to the victims and removed hundreds of priests. On the flight to the U.S., Pope Benedict told reporters he felt deep shame over the scandal.