Bush Welcomes Pope With Pomp and Pageantry

Thousands gather on White House lawn and Washington streets to wish pope a happy birthday.

Pope Benedict XVI, flanked by then-President Bush, acknowledges the crowd in April 2008 at the White House in Washington.

Pope Benedict XVI, flanked by then-President Bush, acknowledges the crowd in April 2008 at the White House in Washington.

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The statement said the two leaders "expressed hope for an end to violence and for a prompt and comprehensive solution to the crises which afflict the region." They reaffirmed a "total rejection" of terrorism and the manipulation of religion to justify violent acts.

On Latin America, the focus was the need for a coordinated policy on immigration and the humane treatment of immigrants, the statement said. They also discussed the defense of life, matrimony, and the family as well as human rights and the struggle against poverty and pandemics, especially in Africa, it said.

At noon, the pope departed the White House in his high-security "popemobile," waving broadly to the crowds in the streets. People banged drums and shook tambourines and held birthday greetings aloft, often identifying their home parish, such as St. Aedan's in Jersey City, N.J. "Got Jesus?" Andrea Pequeno, 11, of Houston wore on her T-shirt as she pounded a percussion drum with fellow parishioners.

A group of Catholics opposed to the Iraq war held aloft a banner recalling Benedict XVI's words on Iraq as recently as last Palm Sunday: "Enough with the slaughter...violence...hatred in Iraq." The pope spoke after the death of the archbishop of Mosul, addressing the spiraling violence in Iraq.