President Bush attended the 2nd annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast last Friday to offer his gratitude for the work of American Catholics for the nation.
Catholics have made sacrifices throughout American history because they understand that freedom is a divine gift that carries with it serious responsibilities, Bush said in his address Friday morning in Washington DC. Among the greatest of these responsibilities is protecting the most vulnerable members of our society. That was the message that Pope John Paul II proclaimed so tirelessly throughout his own life, and it explains the remarkable outpouring of love for His Holiness at the funeral mass that Laura and I were privileged to attend in Rome.
Bush, who is a member of the Methodist church, was the first American President to attend the funeral of a Pope, when he did so for Pope John Paul IIs service.
The best way to honor this great champion of human freedom is to continue to build a culture of life where the strong protect the weak, he added. So, today, I ask the prayers of all Catholics for America's continued trust in God's purpose, for the wisdom to do what's right, and for the strength and the conviction that so long as America remains faithful to its founding truths, America will always be free.
Earlier, the President had thanked those gathered and the millions of others whom [he and his wife, Laura, would] never get to say thanks to in person for the countless prayers.
Bush also mentioned Pope Benedict XVI, who he said Catholics and non-Catholics alike can take heart in because he speaks with affection about the American model of liberty rooted in moral conviction.