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 Home > News & Policies > June 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 4, 2004

President Bush Presents Medal of Freedom to Pope
Remarks by the President in Presentation of Medal of Freedom to His Holiness Pope John Paul II
The Vatican, Italy

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12:58 P.M. (Local)

THE PRESIDENT: Your Holiness, thank you very much for receiving Laura and me, and our delegation. I bring greetings from our country, where you are respected, admired and greatly loved.

I also bring a message from my government that says to you, sir, we will work for human liberty and human dignity, in order to spread peace and compassion; that we appreciate the strong symbol of freedom that you have stood for, and we recognize the power of freedom to change societies and to change the world.

President George W. Bush arrives at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy prior to his meeting with the President Carlo Ciampi of Italy, Friday, June 4, 2004.  White House photo by Paul Morse And so, sir, we're honored to be here. Perhaps the best way I can express my country's gratitude to you, and our respect to you, is to present to you the Medal of Freedom from America. And if you might allow, I'd like to read the citation attached to that honor:

"A devoted servant of God, His Holiness Pope John Paul II has championed the cause of the poor, the weak, the hungry, and the outcast. He has defended the unique dignity of every life, and the goodness of all life. Through his faith and moral conviction, he has given courage to others to be not afraid in overcoming injustice and oppression. His principled stand for peace and freedom has inspired millions and helped to topple communism and tyranny. The United States honors this son of Poland who became the Bishop of Rome and a hero of our time."

And so, on behalf of the American people, Your Holiness, I would be honored if you would accept our Medal of Freedom.

(The Medal of Freedom is presented.) (Applause.)

HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II: I am very grateful, Mr. President, for this thoughtful gesture. May the desire for freedom, peace, a more humane world symbolized by this medal inspire men and women of goodwill in every time and place.

God bless America. (Applause.)

END 1:00 P.M. (Local)
Mrs.Laura Bush and President George W. Bush meet with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in Rome, Italy, Friday, June 4, 2004.  White House photo by Eric Draper