WASHINGTON – President Bush (search) on Tuesday called newly elected Pope Benedict XVI a "man of great wisdom and knowledge."
He is "a man who serves the Lord," Bush said of the pope, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (search), who has been a leading church hard-liner.
Bush, standing next to first lady Laura Bush (search), recalled how they had listened to Ratzinger's homily at Pope John Paul II's funeral 11 days earlier.
"We remember well his sermon at the pope's funeral in Rome, how his words touched our hearts and the hearts of millions," Bush said.
Earlier this month, Bush became the first sitting U.S. president to attend a papal funeral. He called Pope John Paul II a man who faced down totalitarianism and showed communist rulers that "moral truth had legions of its own."
At the State Department, spokesman Adam Ereli said the United States welcomed the announcement of the new pope.
"We look forward to working with His Holiness and the Holy See to build upon our already excellent bilateral relationship and to promote human dignity across the world."