My favorite image from Pres. Bush’s visit with Pope Benedict

I think this is my favorite image from the visit of President Bush to Pope Benedict in Rome this last week.

They are at the Lourdes Grotto at the top part of the Vatican Gardens behind the Basilica of St. Peter. 

You can tell that His Holiness is explaining to the President of the United States the apparitions of Our Lady.

The coverage of this event was quite interesting.  You can tell that journalists, the Holy See Press Office and the White House perhaps weren’t too sure how to talk about it.   They used language like "special protocol".  Essentially, they had to make this one up as they went.

My favorite strange comment from the visit was about how the Pope and the President heard a choir sing some motets.  It was not a religious ceremony, which was important point of the strange comment, but it came out sounding bizarre in Italian.  Pres. Bush and Benedict listened to motets, but "in modo laico".  Weird.  This "laico" refers to a separation of state and religion, which is a big deal in the Italian public square these days as the Church has begun to strengthen her influence and take a moe active role in the "piazza".

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  1. Padre Steve says:

    I would love to see the Church here in the US become more active in the “piazza” as well!

  2. Caption: “Mr. President, watch za pigeon; ze make bg mess on dark suits.”

  3. Tim Ferguson says:

    I love the fact that we’re seeing the Pope sitting in, what is effectively his backyard, on furniture that would look just as at home in my own backyard, with the President of the United States. I think Benedict understands Mr. Bush’s own penchant for informality, and so, rather than making him uncomfortable in a big, formal ceremony in the Apostolic Palace, takes him out to the porch to sit and chat for awhile. More real communication probably took place this way than had the strictures of formal protocol been applied.

  4. Jayna says:

    Even though I’m not a supporter of President Bush (nothing personal, just politics!), I appreciate his acceptance and perhaps even fondness of the Church. And this picture, I must say it, is just downright adorable. They need to be holding a couple beers though, maybe a grill in the background.

  5. RBrown says:

    Maybe the pope is saying: I wish those buildings over there were the mountains in Bavaria.

  6. EDG says:

    Jayna: I thought the informal touch was quite neat, too! I loved the picture.

    That said, does anybody know anything more about the brief article that appeared in the (London) Telegraph earlier today? Castrillon may have been misquoted or the reporter may have jumped to conclusions, but it sure sounded like he (and therefore the Pope) was telling every parish (NOT diocese) in England that it was to have a Gregorian Mass and that every seminary was supposed to teach it, with more guidelines to be issued in the near future for other territories. This would be major if true. Does anybody know if it’s true?

  7. PMcGrath says:

    Caption: Herr Kellner, my friend will have a Lone Star, and I’ll have a Spaten Weiss, bitte

  8. I would not be surprised if someday, perhaps years down the road, Mr. Bush converted to Catholicism. It’s just a hunch. Pray for him.

  9. Caecilia says:

    ‘In modo laico.’ It used not to be the case in Italian that the word ‘laico’ (‘lay’) was being used as basically a synonym for ‘secular’ or ‘atheist.’ It is a recent development, an unwelcome one, coming from France. I now find myself fighting with people to convince them that I am a really a ‘laica.’
    Would that we really had a ‘lay’ state, in the real sense of the word! Maybe in doing the black and doing the red… :-)

  10. Caecilia says:

    that was saying the black and doing the red. Sorry

  11. prof. basto says:


  12. JML says:

    Sister Bertrille! Not Now!

  13. John Hudson says:

    I wonder if the Secret Service staff were envious of the cool uniforms that the Pope’s body guards get to wear?

  14. †JMJ† says:

    Although I agree with the comments about the setting, there is an article in
    the Telegraph that the Pope and W spent about a 1/2 hour in the 12th century
    Tower of St. John and that W was very excited to go see it. Of course it’s
    hard not to make this political, but I just don’t see Pelosi, Kerry, Kennedy
    or any of them getting excited and saying “What an honor, what an honor
    if they were to go to the Tower like that…

  15. Joseph Mary Pius says:

    I am delighted that our President was able to visit the Holy Father, and that, perhaps, President Bush will one day become a Catholic.

    At the same time, what an interesting approach to greeting a leader when considering what the Holy Father was given in our country. Please allow me to explain.

    I’m certainly not complaining about the Vatican ceremony (I might be, though, about the American ceremony), just observing that there could be more here than meets the eye. Papa Benedetto is a very intelligent man, and I wonder if the decision to have the Sistine Choir perform was something entirely of his own initiative.

    Recall, that we had, per the article found at:
    a ceremony at which the Holy Father was honored in our nation, where he was “regaled” with the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    I wonder what the Sistine choir sang? Perhaps:
    Tota pulchra es
    Ave Maris Stella
    O magnum mysterium

    Perhaps this idea regarding this ceremony is wrong, but I do think that our Holy Father is a great teacher, who uses every opportunity….even though some might fail to miss his point. Indeed, he is a very gentle and sweet man, but, when considered, if this interpretation is correct, it was a quite powerful lesson.

  16. sedulus says:

    I would hope Benedict XVI told Bush what his predecessor Benedict XV once said:
    I don’t bless war!

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