Pope Benedict walked out to the White House to be greeted by the largest crowd at the White House since George Bush's first term. Today is the 81st birthday of the Pope and the crowd responded accordingly. Bush welcomed the message of the Pope that God is love. For his part, Benedict had warm words of praise for America as a nation of faith. America has traditionally been a generous country, Benedict said, and he urged the country to keep its values in order. Benedict has a full six day schedule for this visit and international diplomacy is high on the agenda. This analyst says the real reason for the Pope's visit is to speak at the UN, and Benedict is a multilateralist at heart. The analyst says the Pope is also hear to speak the gospel. In meeting privately with Bush, there are major political issues where the two see eye to eye, such as immigration reform. Some of the fundamental disagreements however are on the death penalty, the US embargo on Cuba, and then of course there's the war in Iraq in which the Pope could tell Bush ï¿½I told you so.ï¿½ Another reason this visit is important for Benedict is numbers: the US has the third most Catholics in the world, and they make up a quarter of the US adult population, and attend mass more regularly than their counterparts in Europe.
GlobalPost.com is now PRI.org
GlobalPost and PRI have joined forces to expand in-depth global news reporting to create a more informed, connected and empathetic world.Learn why See GlobalPost stories Dismiss