Pope Urges Fast Return to Sovereignty in Iraq

Pope presses Bush for "speedy return" of sovereignty, security in Iraq

Pope John Paul the Second is urging President Bush to help ensure a "speedy return" of sovereignty and security in Iraq. The president met with John Paul at the Vatican this morning -- their first meeting since the Iraq War, which the pontiff opposed. Afterward, the 84-year-old pope spoke from a wheelchair -- his hands shaking and his frail voice difficult to understand. But a transcript supplied by the Vatican shows him urging the situation in Iraq be "normalized as quickly as possible." Bush didn't reply directly, but promised to "work for human liberty and human dignity." He also presented John Paul with the presidential medal of freedom -- America's highest civilian honor -- telling the pope that in America, he's "respected, admired and greatly loved."

Bush's Rome visit begins a three-day European tour that includes a stop in France for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.