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Body of George HW Bush leaves the US Capitol during a state funeral in Washington DC. Body of George HW Bush leaves the US Capitol during a state funeral in Washington DC.   (AFP or licensors)

Pope sends telegram following death of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush

Pope Francis and the U.S. Bishops assure the Bush family of their prayers, as four former U.S. presidents and President Donald Trump gather at the National Cathedral in Washington DC to pay their respects to former President George H.W. Bush.

By Joachim Teigen

Pope Francis has expressed his condolences at the death of former US president George H.W. Bush who passed away on Nov. 30 at the age of 94.   Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent a telegram on behalf of Pope Francis to the US bishops expressing the Pope's sorrow and promises of prayers. 

“Saddened to learn of the death of former President George H. W. Bush, His Holiness Pope Francis offers heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his prayers to all the Bush family. Commending President Bush’s soul to the merciful love of Almighty God, His Holiness invokes upon all who mourn his passing the divine blessings of strength and peace,” read the telegram on the occasion of the state funeral in Washington DC on Wednesday. 

U.S. Bishops express their condolences

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has also expressed his sorrow at the passing of former President Bush. In a message sent on behalf of the U.S. Bishops, he speaks of his gratitude for “this great man” who had an “unwavering commitment to building bridges of peace and ensuring our nation's freedoms, and inspired many as a devoted husband, father and family patriarch.”

The nation’s farewell

Wednesday 5 December was declared a day of mourning in the U.S. as the funeral took place in the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. From there, the body of the former President will be brought to his home state Texas to lie in public repose, before being laid to rest at the George HW Presidential Library.

Bush served as President of the U.S. from 1989 to 1993. Prior to this, he had served as a senator, ambassador to the UN, Director of the CIA, and Vice President under President Ronald Reagan.

Suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease, he was forced to use a wheelchair in the last years of his life. He passed away in his home in Houston, Texas. 

His funeral took place at the Washington National Cathedral, and he will be buried in his home state, alongside his wife Barbara. 

A friend of the Catholic Church

His presidency coincided with the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II, and the two met on several occasions, among them two visits of the President to the Vatican.

According to President George Bush Jr., one of his father’s favourite quotes was that often attributed to St Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel always and, if necessary, use words”.

05 December 2018, 16:42