President Bush attends Catholic Mass during Vietnam visit

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    President George W Bush attended Mass yesterday at a Catholic church in Hanoi.

    The President and his wife arrived at Cua Bac Catholic Church at 7.40am and prayed silently for a time before the service began. The congregation included many members of the Hanoi Protestant Church, which was too small to accommodate the visit.

    Parish priest Father Nguyen Quoc Khanh, said [color=blue:6zmghdw4]Bush did not say anything [/color:6zmghdw4][color=blue:6zmghdw4]during the service or take Communion[/color:6zmghdw4]. “We all had a silent dialogue with God,” Fr Khanh said.

    Rev Phung Quang Huyen, pastor of the Hanoi Protestant Church, who attended the Mass, said he welcomed the occcasion and felt it showed that the Christian faith was universal.

    Parishioner Nguyen Thi Thao told reporters: “We prayed for everyone in the United States and everyone in the world. We hope everyone will be united under God.”

    Bush later told reporters he was pleased to spend a “moment to converse with God.”

    “We were touched by the simplicity and the beauty of the moment. We appreciate very much the congregation for allowing us to come and worship with them,” he said.

    “A whole society is a society which welcomes basic freedoms and there’s no more basic freedom than the freedom to worship as you see fit,” Bush said.

    The visit came just days after the United States removed Vietnam from its list of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom. For years all religious groups, other than those approved by the governmen, were suppressed by the authorities. The situation is said to have eased in recent months.

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