US President George Bush will receive a special welcome at Vatican City

Vatican City, Jun. 9, 2008 ( - Pope Benedict XVI will extend an unusual courtesy to US President George W. Bush when the American leader visits the Vatican on Friday.

The Vatican has announced that the Holy Father will meet with Bush in St. John's Tower, an ancient building in the far corner of the Vatican gardens. After their private talk there, the two will walk through the gardens to the Lourdes grotto there.

Ordinarily the Pope receives foreign officials in his library on the second floor of the apostolic palace. Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that the unusual arrangements for the June 13 meeting reflected the Pope's wish to repay Bush for the warm reception he enjoyed at the White House during his visit to the US in April.

This will be the 3rd meeting between Pope Benedict and President Bush in just more than one year. Prior to their April meeting in Washington, the American leader had visited Pope Benedict at the Vatican last June, for the first formal meeting between the two since the Pontiff's election in 2005. This is likely to be their last meeting before President Bush leaves office in January 2009.


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