Rocco Palmo reports that "Benedict's gift to the commander-in-chief was even more precious, and message-packed: a rare first edition of the autobiography of John Carroll of Baltimore, the founding bishop of American Catholicism." Nice.
- Bush Hears of Sant'Egidio's Philosophy: We Give Without Counting the Cost, Says Head of Group Zenit News. June 10, 2007. On the President's meeting with eight leaders of the Sant'Egidio Community, including the organization's founder, Andrea Riccardi.
- Benedict XVI and Bush Interview with Francis Rooney, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. June 7, 2007.
Gift or Gaffe?: Why Bush Gave Benedict a Walking Stick, by Wayne Laugesen. National Catholic Register June 24-30, 2007 Issue -- on the carved walking stick that President Bush presented the Pope on the occasion of his first visit, inscribed with the Ten Commandments. The gift was regarded as a laughingstock by liberal critics; the Register tells a different story:
The stick was designed and carved by Roosevelt Wilkerson, a man who lived on the streets of Dallas with his wife until a good friend of George and Laura Bush discovered his craft and began helping him sell the carvings, known as Moses Sticks. [...]The Register reports that the Holy Father did not appear phased by the President's gift of a walking stick, nor is down-home Texan manner of referring to him as "Sir." Neither should we, I suppose.
Nowlin met Wilkerson in 1997 at a craft class at her church, First Presbyterian of Dallas, and later decided she wanted to buy one of his sticks. She asked around, and ended up tracking Wilkerson down by shouting his name in a rough area of southeast Dallas.
Nowlin and Wilkerson struck up a friendship, and she agreed to try selling the sticks. They devised a plan in which Wilkerson would carve sticks, Nowlin would sell them for $75 each, and proceeds would help Wilkerson and his wife rent an efficiency apartment and get off the street.
The first stick Nowlin bought was given to her pastor. Subsequently, she gave a stick to then-Gov. Bush because she knew he cared about the homeless and the poor — and the Ten Commandments. Greeting Nowlin for a luncheon at the governor’s mansion, Laura Bush told her that Gov. Bush considered his Moses Stick “the greatest gift ever.” [...]
In preparing for the Vatican visit, Bush contacted Nowlin about acquiring a stick so the White House protocol office could review it as a possible gift for Pope Benedict XVI. Wilkerson and his wife haven’t been homeless for most of the past 10 years because of the Moses Sticks, but Nowlin says it hasn’t been easy. Sometimes, sales have been slow.
“I needed to sell at least seven sticks a month, if they were to stay off the street,” Nowlin said. “When orders were slow, Roosevelt and I would pray. We would just pray and pray and pray and the orders would come in.”
As a result of the president’s gift to the Pope, Nowlin said she and Wilkerson can’t keep up. She has raised the price of the sticks to $100, but says she could probably charge $1,000 or more and still have a backlog of orders.