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 CNS Story:

POPE-OBAMA Jan-20-2009 (300 words) With photos. xxxi

Pope congratulates Obama on Inauguration Day

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI, congratulating Barack Obama on his inauguration as U.S. president, prayed that he would remain steadfast in his dedication to promote understanding, cooperation and peace in the world.

The pope, in a Jan. 20 telegram, told Obama that he prayed God would "grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities."

Popes traditionally send a telegram of congratulations to new presidents of the United States on the day of their inauguration.

In his message to Obama, Pope Benedict said he prayed, under the new president's leadership, "may the American people continue to find in their impressive religious and political heritage the spiritual values and ethical principles needed to cooperate in the building of a truly just and free society."

The pope said he hoped the future of the United States would be "marked by respect for the dignity, equality and rights of each of its members, especially the poor, the outcast and those who have no voice."

"At a time when so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world yearn for liberation from the scourge of poverty, hunger and violence, I pray that you will be confirmed in your resolve to promote understanding, cooperation and peace among the nations, so that all may share in the banquet of life which God wills to set for the whole human family," the pope said.

Pope Benedict also asked God to bless the Obama family and all the people of the United States.

The pope had also sent a personal message of congratulations Nov. 5 on what he called the "historic occasion" of Obama's election, the first time a black man has been elected president of the United States.


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