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 CNS Story:

POPE-BUSH Jun-9-2008 (310 words) xxxi

Vatican to scrap formal protocol when pope meets president

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Benedict XVI and U.S. President George W. Bush meet at the Vatican June 13, they will scrap the usual formal protocol and instead hold talks and take a leisurely stroll in the Vatican Gardens.

The Vatican opted for the "particular" and "unusual" setting as a way to show its appreciation for "the cordial welcome and meeting held at the White House" during the pope's April 15-20 visit to the United States, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said June 9.

Normally heads of state visiting the pope at the Vatican are taken with much fanfare to the pope's library in the main Apostolic Palace.

But "in light of the (pope's) recent pastoral visit to the United States and the United Nations" and for the warm welcome and hospitality shown the pope during his meeting with Bush on the pope's birthday, April 16, an informal setting at the Vatican was chosen instead, said Father Lombardi.

Father Lombardi said Pope Benedict will meet the president and his wife, Laura Bush, at 11 a.m. at the westernmost tip of the Vatican Gardens at the entrance of St. John's Tower.

The pope and Bush will go to a studio on the top floor of the tower to hold closed-door talks after which the two men "will take a brief stroll in the Vatican Gardens," the spokesman said.

This will be Bush's third meeting with Pope Benedict and his second audience with the German pope at the Vatican. As president, Bush met with Pope John Paul II three times.

Bush is making the trip as part of a wider European tour to attend a U.S.-European Union summit in Slovenia; he also will meet government leaders when he visits Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.


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