President Bush on Friday said the funeral of Pope John Paul II “will be one of the highlights of my presidency” to reporters aboard Air Force One.
According to an Associated Press reporter aboard the aircraft, Bush said he was more personally affected by the service than he had expected, and that his own faith had been strengthened by taking part in the funeral in St. Peter’s Square.
"I happen to feel it was a special moment that was part of a special ceremony for a special person," Bush told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One as he flew from Rome to his Texas ranch. "Today's ceremony, I bet you, for millions of people was a reaffirmation for many and a way to make sure doubts don't seep into your soul."
Bush, the first U.S. President to attend a papal funeral, led a five-member delegation to Vatican City that included former presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
According to AP, Bush spoke at length about the “clear” and “excellent” legacy the late John Paul is leaving behind.
"Pope John Paul II will have a clear legacy of peace, compassion and strong legacy of setting a clear moral tone," Bush said to reporters. "A clear and excellent legacy, if you don't mind adding the word excellent. I wanted to make sure there was a proper adjective to the legacy I thought he left behind. It was more than just clear."
"I would define Pope John Paul II as a clear thinker who was like a rock. Tides of moral relativism kind of washed around him, but he stood strong as a rock," Bush added. "There's a reason why the largest crowd ever to come and pay homage to a human happened, and it's because of the man's character, his views, his positions, his leadership capacity, his ability to relate to all people, his deep compassion, his love of peace."
The evangelical President also said the funeral service had a “spirit” that was an “integral part of the ceremony”.
And he added his experiences in the walk of faith.
"I think a walk in faith constantly confronts doubt, as faith becomes more mature," the president said.
But he added that those doubts do not shake the underlying fundamental beliefs of Christianity.
"There is no doubt in my mind there is a living God. And no doubt in my mind that the Lord Christ was sent by the Almighty. No doubt in my mind about that," he said. "When I'm talking about doubts, I'm talking about the doubts that an individual struggles with in his or her life."