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Pope and Bush Discuss Faith, Policies in Iraq

Professor R. Scott Appleby: 'Cafeteria Catholics'

President Bush welcomed Pope Benedict to Washington on Wednesday, in the first papal visit to the White House in nearly 30 years.

Speaking to a crowd of nearly 9,000 people gathered for a reception on the White House lawn, the pontiff reaffirmed his position on human rights.

After noting the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Benedict said, "the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity as brothers and sisters."

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After a brief meeting between Benedict and Bush, the Vatican and the White House released a joint statement, which said that among several issues, the leaders spoke at length about problems in the Middle East. Benedict has opposed the war in Iraq.

Benedict called for the use of "patient efforts of international diplomacy" to resolve conflicts. He also said that democracy succeeds only when political leaders have a clear moral vision.

The pontiff, who is on a six-day trip to the U.S., was greeted on his 81st birthday Wednesday by an elaborate ceremony at the White House, featuring the U.S. and Vatican anthems and a 21-gun salute.

Benedict praised American society in his speech and made references to the founding fathers, citing the Declaration of Independence and George Washington.

Bush welcomed the pope, saying that in America he would "find a nation that welcomes the role of religion in the public square."

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Thousands of people lined the streets of Washington to cheer as Pope Benedict and his motorcade passed. Benedict smiled and waved from his chair inside the glass-walled, white popemobile.

Read the Joint Statement from the White House and the Holy See:

From NPR reports and The Associated Press.

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