7-April-2005 -- Catholic World News Brief


Vatican, Apr. 07 (CWNews.com) - President George W. Bush lead an official delegation of American mourners in prayer over the mortal remains of Pope John Paul II on Wednesday, April 6, in St. Peter's Basilica.

President Bush and his wife Laura flew from Washington to Rome, then traveled to the Vatican to pay their respects. They were accompanied by the President's father, former President George H. W. Bush, and another former US President, Bill Clinton. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was also in the delegation.

Late Wednesday evening, Vatican security officials temporarily halted the long line of mourners-- some of whom had waited 15 hours outside the basilica-- to allow the American delegation to approach the Pope's body. The crowd stirred noticeably with surprise as the three US presidents appeared. All three US leaders will remain in Rome to attend the funeral on April 8.

President Bush will be the first American President ever to attend a papal funeral. The only Catholic ever to head the US government, John F. Kennedy, did not attend the funeral of Pope John XXIII in 1963. President Jimmy Carter sent his wife to represent him at the funeral of Pope Paul VI, and his mother to the funeral of Pope John Paul I.