For the first time in his life, President GEORGE W. BUSH felt the full "Magni nominis umbra" of Pope John II, the titular leader of over one billion Catholics. As many other world leaders have discovered, Pope John is the singular most powerful voice in all Christendom when it comes to matters of faith.
Meeting with the Pope for the first time, President Bush, the temporal ruler of the world's must advanced nation, thought he and his advisors would control the private and public agenda. His advisors and handlers, though, did not adequately prepare him for a dialogue with the Pope.
The President either ignored or failed to take into account that he would be in the presence of the historical leader and defender of the Christian world. The Pope speaks with the wisdom and knowledge of the words and teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the Holy Word as transmitted to us from the Bible. The Pope comes with a mandate that goes way beyond the daily concerns and material needs of our world. The President, on the other hand, came with worldly concerns such as profits, power, control and materialism. These topics were not in concert with the Pope's priorities - the saving of souls and preparing for the second coming of Christ.
Well aware of the fact that America is involved with stem-cell research, which to the Pope probably appears to be intruding in the formation of life, itself, the presidential party allowed the president of the United States to be publicly reproached by Pope John II. By failing to bring up the subject to the Pope in private, the president committed a serious error. Although he was in the Pope's domain, he sought to exclude him from a national and international dialogue on a matter that goes straight to the heart of Christianity!
It is a blunder of serious consequence. Perhaps the president needs to seriously consider having an ambassador to the Holy See who can help him navigate the dangerous shoals that come with dealing with Pope John II and his future replacement. Millions of American Catholics are not only embarrassed by the President's blundering, but feel shame that their president has humiliated them in this fashion.