.- US President George W. Bush said this weekend he hopes to speak with Pope Benedict XVI about Cuba and âitâs desire to be freeâ during his upcoming meeting with Pontiff on June 9 at the Vatican.
In an interview published by the Italian daily âLa Stampa,â Bush said, âIf the Pope wants to, I would like to talk about Cuba and its desire to be free.â
The president said he is traveling to the Vatican to âlistenâ to the Pope and that he shares with the Holy Father âa common respect for life and for the dignity of man.â
Regarding China, Bush said he would encourage the Holy Father speak with clarity âabout religious freedomâ and to continue âstanding up for Catholicsâ in that country.
This will be the first time President Bush meets with Benedict XVI. Bush was last in Rome in April of 2005 for the funeral of Pope John Paul II.