WASHINGTON – President Bush returned from Camp David Sunday to attend Red Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral (search) in Washington. The mass is held each year on the Sunday before the Supreme Court session begins.
Bush and first lady Laura Bush (search) were joined by newly confirmed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (search) and several of the other justices in the centuries-old Roman Catholic prayer session held for justices, judges and government officials of all faiths.
At the Red Mass, named after the vestments worn by the priests, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (search), the principal celebrant, delivered a homily wishing wisdom and greater civility in public discourse.
“We tend to blame each other, and the level of our discourse can sometimes become shrill and caustic and uneven,” he said, including the church in a list of institutions where civility can improve.
"I pray that that will continue (to show civility) because it is so important not just for good government, but for the good care of our people who look here to all of you and your colleagues for the kind of leadership that is not destructive or too intensely partisan," McCarrick said to the audience that included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search), Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove (search), Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (search) and Bush counselor Harriet Miers. The latter two have been named as possible choices to be the next Supreme Court nominee.
Speaking at the church where services were held for the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (search), McCarrick also wished Roberts "great wisdom and grace as your predecessor."
Returning from Camp David and again when leaving mass, Bush declined to answer reporters' question about whether he had settled on a candidate for the high court. Bush is expected to announce his choice for a nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search) early this week, but Card said Sunday he has not made a decision on his pick yet.
The president is "still considering lots of options," Card said as he disembarked from Marine One. Asked whether the announcement would be made on Sunday, Card replied, "Doesn't have to be today."
White House officials say the president is through consulting with senators for advice and spent the weekend mulling over his decision.
The Supreme Court's term opens Monday with Roberts sitting as the 17th chief justice, replacing Rehnquist. Bush is expected to attend Monday's formal ceremony ushering Roberts into his new job.
Also appearing on the bench Monday will be O'Connor, who announced her retirement in July but agreed to serve on the court until her successor has been confirmed. Roberts was originally nominated to replace O'Connor but when Rehnquist died, Bush moved him up as the nominee for the chief's seat.
The president is under pressure from conservatives to nominate someone who is a staunch conservative. His short list of candidates who are thought to be more conservative includes 5th Circuit Appeals judges Edith Jones and Emilio Garza, and Michigan Superior Court Justice Maura Corrigan.
Some Republicans say they want the president to avoid choosing a moderate candidate since Democrats will raise loud objections to anyone he chooses.
"So I hope the president tunes it out, fulfills campaign promise of picking another well-qualified conservative, strict constructionist like John Roberts," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (search), R-S.C.
Some Democrats are urging the president not to choose judges Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown, both of whom were filibustered for the federal appeals court bench until a deal was struck earlier this year by the "Gang of 14," a group of moderate Republican and Democratic senators who managed to end an impasse in the Senate over several Bush nominees.
Democrats also are trying to turn Bush away from Miguel Estrada, who withdrew from consideration after facing years of opposition from Democrats. Democrats say any of those candidates would end the Gang of 14's negotiated agreement not to filibuster judicial nominees.
FOX News' Kelly Wright and The Associated Press contributed to this report.