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Bush Attends National Prayer Service

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President Bush opened his second term in office with a prayer service at Washington's National Cathedral. Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney took their oaths of office Thursday in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

Irish tenor Ronan Tynan filled the National Cathedral with his performance as the president and Mrs. Bush listened from the front pew.

They were joined by their daughters, Barbara and Jenna, along with the vice president and his family, members of Congress and ambassadors from Washington's diplomatic corps.

The Reverend Billy Graham asked God's blessing on President Bush and Vice President Cheney as they begin their second term. "Their next four years are hidden from us, but they are not hidden from you. You know the challenges and opportunities they will face. Give them a clear mind, a warm heart, calmness in the midst of turmoil, reassurance in times of discouragement and your presence always," Rev. Graham said.

Many of the religious leaders at this multi-faith function spoke of healing the political divisions remaining from November's close presidential election.

The Texas Reverend Mark Craig spoke of the fundamental values that bind Americans regardless of their political beliefs. "We are a compassionate people and a loving people, and we are a moral people. Our compassion is not liberal. Our compassion is not conservative. Our compassion is not libertarian. Our compassion is in the very heart and soul of every American citizen," he said.

President Bush did not speak publicly during the prayer service. In his inaugural address Thursday, Mr. Bush spoke of the moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which he says is eternally right.

He said America's influence is considerable and he will use it confidently to support democracy and end tyranny around the world.

The president did not name the rulers of what he called outlaw regimes, nor did he suggest imminent military action, saying advancing freedom is not primarily the task of arms.

Instead, Mr. Bush said freedom must by chosen and defended by citizens, vowing that he will stand with those who live in tyranny and oppression.

 

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