Pope meets US president’s wife

POPE Benedict received US First Lady Laura Bush yesterday and told her he was worried about terrorism around the world and violence sparked by the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

“His hope and certainly our hope (is) for peace and tolerance for each of us, to treat everyone else with respect,” she said.

The Vatican has already condemned the cartoons.

“I know that Muslims are offended with these cartoons. I understand their offence (but) on the other hand I don’t think violence is the answer. I think everyone around the world needs to speak out and say ‘let’s stop the violence’,” she said.

The pope met Ms Bush and her daughter Barbara in his private library and wished her “a peaceful time” at the Olympics in Turin, where she is heading the US delegation.

As she left, the first lady told the pope that President George W Bush “sends his best wishes.” She said she would also relay the pope’s good wishes back to him.

On the eve of the visit, she told Vatican Radio: “The American people are a religious people, of course all different religions. But we share a lot of the same values with the Catholic Church.”

She also talked about Benedict’s predecessor, John Paul II: “We loved him, we were always really impressed by his goodness and his deep compassion for people around the world.”

After the meeting at the Vatican, she had lunch with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and visited a Rome hospital for a breast cancer awareness event.

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