Birthday Serenade for Visiting Pope

Pontiff-mania sweeps into Washington; 'God bless America,' Benedict says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2008 9:56 AM CDT
Pope Benedict XVI watches the trooping of the colors, Wednesday, April 16, 2008, during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.    (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – President Bush threw a birthday party for Pope Benedict XVI at the White House today, the AP reports, helping the pontiff turn 81 in style. “God bless America,” the pope told the crowd of about 9,000 invited guests. “Birthdays are typically spent with friends,” Bush said. “Our entire nation is moved that you’ve decided to spend this special day with us.”

Bush spoke of America as “a nation of prayer” which “welcomes the role of faith in the public square.” Both focused on the issues they agree on, with Bush speaking of the sanctity of life and decrying the “dictatorship of relativism” pushed by people unable to “distinguish between simple right and wrong.” Benedict was also serenaded with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”