U.S. first lady meets with Pope Benedict XVI

U.S. first lady Laura Bush arrived at the Vatican on Thursday for talks with Pope Benedict XVI. The meeting with the pontiff is part of a visit that will take Bush to Turin, where she is heading the U.S. Olympic delegation.

"The American people are a religious people, of course all different religions. But we share a lot of the same values with the Catholic Church," Bush told Vatican Radio in an interview taped in Washington before her departure and broadcast Thursday.

Bush said she was looking forward to meeting the pope, and talked about Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, whom she met several times.

"We loved him, we were always really impressed by his goodness and his deep compassion for people around the world," the first lady said.

Bush also mentioned visiting Catholic charities around the world, and said she visited a Catholic hospital that works in the treatment and prevention of AIDS during a recent visit to Nigeria, reports the AP.

I.L.