Video: 'Champion of human freedom'

updated 4/2/2005 5:19:40 PM ET 2005-04-02T22:19:40

President Bush on Saturday said that Pope John Paul II was "a faithful servant of God and a champion of human dignity and freedom."

"He is an inspiration to us all," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Laura and I join millions of Americans and so many around the world who are praying for the Holy Father."

Bush, who was spending the weekend at the White House, was in the Oval Office before 7 a.m. ET Saturday. In addition to getting his usual national security and intelligence briefings, Bush was getting updates on the pope from senior aides, spokesman Ken Lisaius said.

Bush normally tapes his radio address on Friday for its broadcast Saturday morning. He rarely delivers them live.

This time, the wait for developments out of Rome had the president holding off until shortly before the broadcast to tape the address in which he mentioned the pope.

The focus of the rest of the address was this week's release of a scathing report by a presidential commission on America's intelligence apparatus.

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