Pope Benedict XVI has received an unprecedented presidential greeting from George W Bush after arriving for his first official visit to the US.
Mr. Bush and his wife Laura were waiting on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base when the Pontiff’s plane touched down. During his six-day visit, the head of the Catholic Church will address the UN and lead prayers at Ground Zero.
Before arriving the Pope told reporters on board his plane that he was “deeply ashamed” of sexual abuse by US clergy. Pope Benedict, who was elected three years ago, vowed to work against a recurrence of the crisis, which tarnished the Church’s reputation, saying “we will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry”.
In recent years, the US Catholic Church, which has around 65 million followers, has paid $2bn (£1bn) to settle clergy sexual abuse cases. The damage limitation over past scandals is not the main purpose of the Pontiff’s first trip to the US though.
So this is it, the Pope is not going to talk about Iraq and George W. Bush will avoid …children! What a …blessing!