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Faith has helped since attacks, Bush says at prayer breakfast

WASHINGTON (BP)–The ability of faith “to see us through the hurt and loss that has come to our country” has been evident to Americans since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, President Bush said at the National Prayer Breakfast.

In a nine-minute speech Feb. 7 at the 50th anniversary of the annual event, the president said “more good than we could ever have predicted” has come from the “evil” of the attacks. Faith has produced assurance, tolerance, loving service and a distinction between good and evil, Bush told the audience that included members of Congress, administration officials, foreign dignitaries and religious leaders.

“None of us would ever wish on anyone what happened on [Sept. 11],” Bush said, according to a written transcript. “Yet, as with each life, sorrows we would not choose can bring wisdom and strength gained in no other way. This insight is central to many faiths and certainly to faith that finds hope and comfort in a cross.”

Other than that mention of the crucifixion of Jesus, Bush’s other comments included references to biblical passages but were made without directly citing Christianity.

“Faith gives the assurance that our lives and our history have a moral design,” said the president, who has spoken of a relationship with Christ that began in the 1980s. “As individuals, we know that suffering is temporary, and hope is eternal. As a nation, we know that the ruthless will not inherit the earth.

“Faith teaches humility and, with it, tolerance. Once we have recognized God’s image in ourselves, we must recognize it in every human being.

“When our country was attacked, Americans did not respond with bigotry,” Bush said. “People from other countries and cultures have been treated with respect. And this is one victory in the war against terror.”

Faith also demonstrates the reality of good and evil, Bush said. The people who ran into buildings struck by the terrorists “were not confused about the difference between right and wrong,” he said. “And we know their sacrifice was not in vain.

“It is always, and everywhere, wrong to target and kill the innocent,” the president said. “It is always, and everywhere, wrong to be cruel and hateful, to enslave and oppress. It is always, and everywhere, right to be kind and just, to protect the lives of others and to lay down your life for a friend.

“Faith shows us the way to self-giving, to love our neighbor as we would want to be loved ourselves. And as acts of service are multiplied, our nation becomes a more welcoming place for the weak and a better place for those who suffer and grieve.”

While faith will not make the difficulties ahead easier, “it will give us strength for the journey,” he said.

“The promise of faith is not the absence of suffering; it is the presence of grace. And at every step we are secure in knowing that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope — and hope does not disappoint.”

The president expressed gratitude on behalf of his family for the prayers offered for them. He also gave special thanks for the participation in the prayer breakfast of Lisa Beamer, the widow of one of the heroes of the flight that crashed Sept. 11 in rural Pennsylvania. Todd Beamer was one of the passengers who fought to keep the terrorist hijackers from reaching their target and died in the process.

“I appreciate her example of faith made stronger in trial,” Bush said. “In the worst moments of her life, Lisa has been a model of grace — her own and the grace of God. And all [of] America welcomes into the world Todd and Lisa’s new daughter, Morgan
Kay Beamer.”

Lisa gave birth to Morgan Jan. 9.

Among other speakers on the program was Rep. Bart Stupak, D.-Mich.

A transcript of the president’s speech is available at www.whitehouse.gov.