Rorate Caeli

God bless America!

Mr. President, Thank you for your gracious words of welcome on behalf of the people of the United States of America. I deeply appreciate your invitation to visit this great country. My visit coincides with an important moment in the life of the Catholic community in America: the celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the elevation of the country’s first Diocese – Baltimore – to a metropolitan Archdiocese, and the establishment of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville. Yet I am happy to be here as a guest of all Americans. I come as a friend, a preacher of the Gospel and one with great respect for this vast pluralistic society. America’s Catholics have made, and continue to make, an excellent contribution to the life of their country. As I begin my visit, I trust that my presence will be a source of renewal and hope for the Church in the United States, and strengthen the resolve of Catholics to contribute ever more responsibly to the life of this nation, of which they are proud to be citizens.

From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for freedom has been guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the “self-evident truth” that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God. The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation, religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of shared ideals and aspirations.

In the next few days, I look forward to meeting not only with America’s Catholic community, but with other Christian communities and representatives of the many religious traditions present in this country. Historically, not only Catholics, but all believers have found here the freedom to worship God in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, while at the same time being accepted as part of a commonwealth in which each individual and group can make its voice heard. As the nation faces the increasingly complex political and ethical issues of our time, I am confident that the American people will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and an inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue in the effort to build a more humane and free society.

Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience – almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue, self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and again, that “in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation”, and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion and morality represent “indispensable supports” of political prosperity.

The Church, for her part, wishes to contribute to building a world ever more worthy of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27). She is convinced that faith sheds new light on all things, and that the Gospel reveals the noble vocation and sublime destiny of every man and woman (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). Faith also gives us the strength to respond to our high calling, and the hope that inspires us to work for an ever more just and fraternal society. Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation.

For well over a century, the United States of America has played an important role in the international community. On Friday, God willing, I will have the honor of addressing the United Nations Organization, where I hope to encourage the efforts under way to make that institution an ever more effective voice for the legitimate aspirations of all the world’s peoples. On this, the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity – as brothers and sisters dwelling in the same house and around that table which God’s bounty has set for all his children. America has traditionally shown herself generous in meeting immediate human needs, fostering development and offering relief to the victims of natural catastrophes. I am confident that this concern for the greater human family will continue to find expression in support for the patient efforts of international diplomacy to resolve conflicts and promote progress. In this way, coming generations will be able to live in a world where truth, freedom and justice can flourish – a world where the God-given dignity and rights of every man, woman and child are cherished, protected and effectively advanced.

Mr. President, dear friends: as I begin my visit to the United States, I express once more my gratitude for your invitation, my joy to be in your midst, and my fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this nation and its people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace. God bless America!

Pope Benedict XVI
Address in the White House
April 16, 2008


  1. Anonymous5:14 PM

    God bless our awesome Holy Father and God bless our President!

    Dan Hunter

  2. Anonymous5:49 PM

    Did anyone notice they sang the protestant Pater Noster for the Pope???

  3. anon you need to lighten up a little mate.

  4. "...the protestant Pater Noster..."

    And I'm sure he enjoyed the performance. I know as a professional baratione and a staunch Roman Catholic I've always enjoyed singing it for various occaisions outside of Holy Mass. Further, as a musician and a liturgist, I wasn't aware that Albert Hay Mallotte's "Our Father" had been awarded a status above anything other than "popular art song". To call Mallotte's piece "The protestant Our Father" is not only liturgically uninformed, it's also a rather uncharitable attribution, don't you think?

    BTW, hasn't the tone gotten rather acrid and bitter on this site lately? There are more than a few Anon's who need to lighten up around here. Anyway, God bless Benedict XVI!

  5. Anonymous6:21 PM

    Not really sure "lightening up" entails not being able to point out certain things.

    Pretty sure anyone traditional who hears "for thine is the kingdom ..." at the end of the Pater knows that's the protestant version.

    In fact, my phone rang a number of times, and i received more than one email with people pointing that out who were at the White House and who saw it on TV.

    Is it the end of the world? No, it's simply ironic. I think some of you need to lighten up.

  6. It's an artsong, anon, get over it. Do you think the prots were the first ones to use "Quia tu es regnum et potestas et gloria in saecula"? It's been part of the Greek liturgy since long before the Schism. So yea, lighten up. Smile! Enjoy the music.

    Heck, it's not even ironic, since it was sung on the White House lawn, under the presidency of a protestant Christian leader of a majority protestant country. But even so, it's just an artsong on the lawn. Now if Cardinal Egan had got up and sung it himself, either on the White House lawn or at Mass in St. Pat's, then I'd be surprised (perhaps even rolling on the floor laughing, depending on what kind of singer he turned out to be!). Keep your sense of humour:-)

  7. Anonymous7:16 PM

    Wow, all this from me simply noticing some irony. Yes, it's ironic, whether it's an art song or not. It's like bringing the president of greenland a block of ice as a gift upon arrival at the White House. Ironic.

    Anywho ...

  8. Would it be useful to post, or link to, the text of President Bush's address too? For us on the European side of the pond, it is so much better than what we have recently seen from Tony Blair.

  9. How can Almighty God bless a country which is positively secularist? It is about time people started to wake up to the absurdity of post-conciliar phenomenology.

    " is difficult for me to understand how it was possible for priests to fail in this way the mission to give healing....."

    With all due respect to the office of the papacy, on the contrary, it is easy to understand when the church becomes a liberal anthropocentric institution that places the alleged dignity of the human person over the charity that is due to Almighty God in the first instance. Furthermore, when its own clergy and bishops rebel against the orthodox norms and values of The Roman Catholic Faith as they have done without regard since 1965 in their secularised quest for religious liberty and ecumenism. Horizontalism, collectivism and the insistence on spurious "rights of every man woman and child" are the very source of the systemic corruption of the Catholic religion. Therein lies the modernism of the post-conciliar establishment. Therein dwells the perversion of The Faith.

  10. Anonymous12:47 PM

    Leong asked: How can Almighty God bless a country which is positively secularist?

    Jesus said God sends the blessing of rain on the just and the unjust.

  11. Indeed, Jordan, it rains on both the wheat and the tares but it is the latter who are bundled up and burnt at harvest time. There is no doubt that Almighty God will punish the idolatrous nation. Many are being annihilated at present.

  12. Anonymous7:08 PM


    Your asked, "How can God bless a, etc." Our Lord told us to bless our enemies. When you say, "God bless you," you are not saying "You deserve a blessing," but "May God bless and keep you." All sinners -- even secularists -- need God's blessing and keeping.

    How can God bless America? By providing the *unmerited grace* of conversion, that's how. We all pray for sinners, and to ask for God to bless America is nothing other than to ask for God to watch over the nation.

    -- Sequitur

  13. Anonymous3:50 AM

    Leong said: There is no doubt that Almighty God will punish the idolatrous nation. Many are being annihilated at present.

    Yes, it is hard to see how our nation can escape God's wrath for much longer, given all our sins. God is merciful and patient, but His patience will not last indefinitely. As the prophet said, we've been sowing the wind, and we'll reap the whirlwind. We must pray and work even harder for America's conversion.


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