Jimmy Carter photo

Visit of Pope John Paul II White House Statement.

October 06, 1979

President Carter welcomed His Holiness Pope John Paul II to the White House October 6, 1979. The Pope's visit to Washington concluded an historic week-long papal journey to six American cities.

In their private talks, the President and the Pope discussed, in particular, situations of concern to world peace and justice. They also reviewed ways of best serving the cause of peace, freedom, and justice in the world.

Sharing the belief that respect for human rights and the dignity of the individual must be the cornerstone of the domestic and international policies of nations, the Pope and the President underlined their support for international covenants on human rights and for international organizations and entities which serve the cause of human rights. They agreed that the international community must mobilize its concern and resources to deal with the problems of refugees, to protect human rights, and to prevent hunger and famine.

The President and the Pope urged all states to support humanitarian efforts to deal with the plight of starving people and refugees.

The Pope and the President agreed that the cause of peace in the world is served by international efforts to halt the proliferation of armaments and to eliminate the weapons of war.

The President discussed the importance of the Camp David accords and his efforts to end the bitter conflict in the Middle East. He emphasized the determination of the United States to seek a comprehensive peace, including resolution of the Palestinian and Jerusalem questions, the establishment of peace and stability in Lebanon, and genuine security for all countries in the Middle East. The Pope reiterated the special interest which the Holy See attaches to the Middle East peace process and to the need for an internationally acceptable solution to these grave problems.

The Pope and the President discussed the tragic situation in Northern Ireland. They jointly condemned resort to violence, by any party for any reason, and recalled the appeals which both have recently made for a peaceful solution.

The Pope reviewed his trips to Poland and to Mexico and stressed the universal longing for human dignity and freedom, which he had encountered during his pilgrimage.

The President and the Pope also discussed recent developments in southern Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The President noted that the United States seeks conditions of stability, prosperity, and peace in all these areas in the belief that these will promote human rights. The President emphasized that the international community, and especially the industrial nations, must undertake a greater effort to assist less developed countries to achieve a better way of life for their peoples. The Pope and the President agreed that efforts to advance human rights constitute the compelling idea of our times.

During the Pope's private talks with the President, Vice President Walter Mondale chaired a meeting of principal papal and U.S. advisers. On the Vatican side there were present: His Eminence Agostino Cardinal Casaroll, the Papal Secretary of State, His Excellency Archbishop Eduardo Martinez Somalo, the substitute Secretary of State, His Excellency Archbishop Jean Jadot, Apostolic Delegate in the United States, Monsignor Audrys Backis, the Undersecretary of the Council for Public Affairs of the Church, and others.

On the United States side there were present: Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, the President's National Security Adviser, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Deputy National Security Adviser David Aaron, Anne Wexler, Assistant to the President, the President's personal envoy to the Vatican, Ambassador Robert F. Wagner, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs George Vest, and others.

In addition to the topics discussed in the Oval Office, this meeting in the Cabinet Room reviewed the status of the SALT II treaty and the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act, to which both the Holy See and the United States are signatories. They viewed compliance with the provisions of the Final Act, to be examined at the 1980 Review Conference in Madrid, as essential for enlarging human rights and, in particular, freedom of conscience throughout the world.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of Pope John Paul II White House Statement. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248785

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