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Pope meets Bush, Vespers with Bishops

 This morning the Pope, who celebrates his 81st birthday today, celebrated a private Mass in the chapel of the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C. At 10.10am local time Benedict XVI travelled by car to the White House for the welcome ceremony, during which he was scheduled to deliver an address and, subsequently, to hold a private meeting with President George Bush. The Holy Father will have lunch with American cardinals and with the president, vice-president and secretary general of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), respectively Cardinal Francis E George OMI., Bishop Gerald Kicanas and Mgr David Malloy. At 4.45pm local time he will meet with leaders of five charitable organisations: the Knights of Columbus, the Patrons of the Arts, Centesimus Annus Pro Pontefice, the Papal Foundation and the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land. At 5.30 pm local time (11.30 p.m. in Rome) the Holy Father will go to Washington's National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where he will preside at the celebration of Vespers with United States bishops. Following the ceremony, the Pope will return to the apostolic nunciature in Washington DC, where he will dine in private and spend the night. Keep up with the latest live reports of the Pope's visit to the USA on: uspapalvisit.org