Friday, June 8, 2007

Bush to Shine Spotlight on Sant 'Egidio Groups

From Pravda (of all places):

On the surface, a Bush meeting with Sant'Egidio seems implausible. The organization is at the forefront of the international anti-death penalty movement, working city by city to generate support for a worldwide moratorium on capital punishment.

Spokesman Mario Marazziti acknowledged there was an obvious clash of cultures regarding capital punishment. Bush allowed 152 executions while he was governor of Texas, the U.S. state that executes more inmates than any other.

But Marazziti said Saturday's encounter - which the White House requested - should still be constructive. Sant'Egidio's other social justice initiatives - such as running schools for the poor, soup kitchens for the hungry and home visitations for the elderly - are the type of faith-based programs that Bush often embraces.

"We will try not to be naive, to be respectful ... but at the same time sincere, to find all the ways in which poverty can be fought and human dignity can be supported," Marazziti said.

One area where the two find common ground is fighting AIDS in Africa, and that is expected to be a focus of Saturday's discussion, Marazziti said.