WASHINGTON, Jan 23, 2001 ( – President George Bush commenced his new role with an interfaith service praying for blessings for his presidency and his family. Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, addressed the Bush family and gathered supporters in the Episcopal Washington National Cathedral, calling on the President to “ignite the soul of America.”

Cardinal-Elect Theodore McCarrick – archbishop of Washington – Rabbi Samuel Karff, Greek Othodox Bishop Demetrios, the Rt. Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon – the bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Washington, and the Very Rev. Nathan D. Baxter – dean of the cathedral – also participated in the service.

The pope too sent his prayers and wishes to President Bush. Pope John Paul II’s message read in part: “I pray that under your leadership the American people will discover in their rich religious and political heritage the spiritual values which will provide clear direction and a sound ethical foundation for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom, with unfailing respect for the dignity and rights of each individual, especially the poor, the defenceless and those with no voice.” In his first public appearance the president took office he demanded that his staff “stay well within the boundaries that define legal and ethical conduct,” presumably in an effort to distance himself from the scandal-ridden Clinton presidency.

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