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Bush Honors Catholic Cardinals

December 13, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush paid tribute to America’s Roman Catholic cardinals Tuesday and credited religious faith with helping to bring down barriers to freedom in Eastern Europe.

″Today, the times are on the side of peace. Because the world, increasingly, is on the side of God,″ said Bush.

He spoke at a Catholic University of America banquet honoring six U.S. cardinals and celebrating the university’s reaching the halfway mark in a $100 million fund-raising drive.

Bush said the Catholic Church ″time and again″ has stood for freedom in Eastern Europe ″where democracy is on the march″ and in the Philippines, where the Aquino government is struggling ″to preserve a hard-won democracy.″

In Latin America, an area where the church has at times been critical of U.S. policy, Bush called for a renewed commitment to liberty.

In El Salvador, he condemned ″terrorism and murder, whatever the ideology,″ and promised, ″we will do everything we can to bring to justice those who murdered the six Jesuit priests.″

The six priests were slain along with their housekeeper and her daughter last month by armed men who invaded their rectory at the Jesuit university in San Salvador. Some church groups have accused government troops of the killings, which occured a few days after leftist rebels launched an offensive in the capital.

″In Nicaragua, too, we cannot rest until liberty’s victory is won. We want this to be the first hemisphere made up entirely of free, democratic countries,″ said the president.

Bush said that at the Dec. 2-3 summit with Mikhail S. Gorbachev off Malta, he and the Soviet president talked of ″the freedom to dismantle barriers between nations. And how principles based on conscience can move mountains or - as in East Berlin - even move a wall.″

″As we spoke, I thought of how God does move in mysterious ways,″ said Bush, recalling Gorbachev’s words to Pope John Paul II on the eve of the Malta summit.

Gorbachev told the pontiff that ″the moral values that religion embodied for centuries can help in the work of renewal of our country″ and that ″this (renewal) is already happening,″ said Bush.

″What a wonderful message for this Christmas season - a message of the renewal which springs from faith, hope, generosity, freedom,″ said Bush. ″What a wonderful legacy to leave our children - the knowledge that God can live without man, but man cannot live without God.″

Bush also pledged continued support for several other issues important to the Catholic hierarchy: opposing abortion, backing a constitutional amendment to allow voluntary prayer in public schools, and insisting that church- sponsored centers be eligible for any new federal child care aid.

The dinner, which also capped Catholic University’s centennial year, honored Cardinals John O’Connor of New York, Bernard Law of Boston, Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, James Hickey of Washington, Edmund Szoka of Detroit and John Krol of Philadelphia. Krol is retired.

Two other American cardinals, William Baum, the former archbishop of Washington who is now prefect of the Congregation for Seminaries and Institute of Study in Rome, and John Carberry, the retired archbishop of St. Louis, were not at the dinner.

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