President Bush met with Pope John Paul II for the first time Monday, in the midst of Bush’s struggle over federal funding of stem cell research.

Several Bush advisers said the president would likely not make a decision about stem cell research until after the July 23 visit, according to the Washington Post.
The pope did not refer to the funding of stem cell research during the president’s visit, according to the New York Times. He did say, however, that America “must reject practices that devalue and violate human life at any stage from conception until natural death,” according to an Associated Press transcript of the pontiff’s prepared statement.
He added that the creation of human embryos for research purposes resembled euthanasia and infanticide, the Times reported. However, according to AP, embryos involved in stem cell research aren’t created for scientific study; rather, existing embryos that would otherwise be discarded are taken from fertility clinic surpluses.
Bush did not broach the subject, but thanked the pope for his “kindness and the honor of this meeting.” Bush also said every nation, “including my own, would benefit from hearing and heeding this message of conscience (the Gospel of life)” and praised the pontiff for carrying “the message of the Gospel into the Third Millennium, always with courage and confidence,” according to the Times.
The pope also expressed concern about globalization, saying the world is no longer divided by political and military blocs, but by “a tragic fault line between those who benefit from these opportunities and those who seem cut off from them,” according his prepared statement.
Bush said at a news conference that he would take the pope’s words “into consideration” regarding his decision about stem cell research but had no intention of being rushed into a decision, the Times article read.
Jared Porter is BCE’s reporting intern.

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