Bush Lauds Pope at White House Visit
The pontiff formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger visited the White House this morning and President Bush laid it on thick.
An enthralled South Lawn crowd of more than 9,000 sang “Happy Birthday” to Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday — twice — and President Bush said that the first papal White House visit in 29 years was a reminder for Americans to “distinguish between simple right and wrong.”
“We need your message to reject this dictatorship of relativism and embrace a culture of justice and truth,” Bush said in brief remarks welcoming Benedict to the White House. “In a world where some see freedom as simply the right to do as they wish, we need your message that true liberty requires us to live our freedom not just for ourselves, but in a spirit of mutual support.”
The pontiff turned 81 Wednesday, the first full day of his first trip to the United States as leader of the world’s Roman Catholics. His 90-minute stay at the White House was accompanied by the kind of pomp and pageantry rarely seen even on grounds accustomed to routinely welcoming royalty and the world’s most important leaders.
Do we really need a papal visit in order to distinguish right from wrong? And since when did Ratzinger invent the idea that liberty means more than mere license? For that matter, what kind of liberty “requires” a “spirit of mutual support”?
Granting that the pope represents one of the largest religious denominations on the planet and that a significant number of Americans are Roman Catholics, at least nominally, why is he entitled to such a lavish, deferential greeting by the secular leader of the United States? What other cleric would get such treatment?
And who’s the joker waving the Rebel flag? (UPDATE: Commenters surmise that it’s actually the Mississippi state flag, which has been used since 1894 and prominently features the Confederate battle flag.)