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US Ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon Comments on the White House Statement.

VATICAN CITY (Zenit) - Benedict XVI and U.S. President George Bush will continue a conversation about faith and reason when the Pope visits the White House. The two leaders discussed this theme when Bush visited the Vatican last year.

The U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Mary Ann Glendon, announced this topic for Wednesday's meeting, citing a statement from the White House.

"It is a very short announcement, but the wording is significant. It says that the Pope and the president will continue the discussions that they have been having about the role of faith and reason in advancing their shared goals," she told Vatican Radio.

"I think that is significant, because that word 'continue' relates to the fact that apparently the last time they met they developed a personal relationship: They hit it off, so to speak."

The Holy Father received Bush in audience in the Vatican last June 9.

"They both said afterward that they had enjoyed the conversation and the companionship of the other, so I think they have something to build on," Glendon added. "And it is interesting that the announcement picked up the theme of faith and reason, which is so central to this pontificate.

"And then when the announcement went on to speak of the shared goals, it spoke of the common interest in promoting tolerance and understanding among cultures and religions. It spoke of promoting peace in the Middle East and other troubled regions. It spoke of promoting human rights and especially religious freedom."

The White House statement also explained that Benedict XVI's trip to the White House will be the second time in history that a Pontiff makes such a visit.

Pope John Paul II visited President Jimmy Carter and his wife at the White House in October, 1979, on the final leg of a six-city United States tour.

Benedict XVI's visit coincides with his 81st birthday. He will be greeted by the president and his wife at the South Portico. The president and the Pope will deliver prepared remarks on the South Lawn and then enter the White House for a private meeting in the Oval Office.

On Tuesday, Bush will also see the Pope, as he plans to go to the airport to receive him.

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