GEORGE BUSH MIGHT BECOME A CATHOLIC
Excerpts from TELEGRAPH: "George W Bush and Pope Benedict XVI have held an intimate meeting in Rome as rumours mounted in Italy that the president may follow in Tony Blair's footsteps and convert to Catholicism.
The two men spoke for half an hour in the 12th century Tower of St John, a private area in the Vatican gardens which is used by the pope for private reflection.
The usual protocol for heads-of-state is a meeting in the pope's library in the Apostolic Palace, but a spokesman for the Vatican said Benedict wanted to reward Mr Bush for the "warmth" of his reception at the White House earlier this year.
The two men have grown increasingly close in the past two years, and Mr Bush was overheard whispering: "What an honour, what an honour, what an honour!" as he ascended the steps to the tower.
After a stroll through the Vatican gardens, the men listened to a recital by the choir of the Sistine Chapel. However, Mr Bush did not, as expected, kneel in prayer before the Grotto of the Madonna of Lourdes. It was thought that he may have prayed with the pope in private. Mr Bush prayed with Benedict in the Oval Office during the Papal visit to the US in April.
Several Italian newspapers cited Vatican sources suggesting that Mr Bush may be prepared to convert. One source told Il Foglio, an authoritative newspaper, that "Anything is possible, especially for a born-again Christian such as Bush."
He has repeatedly made clear his admiration for Benedict and has even claimed to have read some of the pope's theological books.
A source close to the Vatican said that Mr Bush was the most "Catholic-minded" president since John F Kennedy, who famously played down his Catholicism. Mr Bush belongs to a Methodist church in Texas and prays at an Episcopal church in Washington.
Jeb Bush, the president's brother, has already converted to Catholicism.
Catholics have noted that during the contested election in 2000, Jeb Bush travelled to Mexico and prayed to the icon of Our Lady of Guadelupe. His victory was announced by the Supreme Court on December 12, the feast day of the Lady of Guadelupe."