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By effusive praise of Pope John Paul II, with whom he often disagreed, President Bush has tried to come down on the side of religious influence on his political maneuvering. It's like awarding the Medal of Freedom to George Tenet or, with a straight face, nominating as U.N. ambassador John Bolton, the administration's chief critic of the United Nations.

The way in which Bush handled the non-invitation to Jimmy Carter to join the U.S. delegation smacked of petty politics. We all knew Bush and Carter were not the best of friends, but you would think Bush, as one president to another, would have had the decency to call Carter, explaining the Vatican wanted no more than five in the preferred seating section. The president, his wife and father, plus Condoleezza Rice and Bill Clinton, constituted the five.

I could not help but notice that Andrew Card, White House chief of staff, was right there alongside the preferred five. Does that mean that Card outranked a former president? Could not Card have been offered one of the "cheap seats"? Some 40 U.S. lawmakers made the trip, without sitting in the front row.

Richard A. Kamprath

Town of Tonawanda