At his first audience with John Paul’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, Bush’s overly casual behavior was noted by many Italians and Vatican watchers. He addressed the pope as “sir,” rather than the customary “your holiness,” and leaned far back in his chair with one leg thrown informally over another, instead of the ramrod-straight physical posture more commonly seen in the pontiff’s presence. Rome’s ANSA agency flashed a “Gaffe Presidente” headline.
For Benedict’s first U.S. tour as pope, there were several presidential firsts: Bush traveled to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to meet the pontiff’s plane, brought the largest crowd of his presidency to the South Lawn for Benedict’s arrival ceremony, and hosted a dinner in the pope’s honor that Benedict didn't attend.
In this June 13, 2008, file photo, Pope Benedict XVI and President George W. Bush walk in the Vatican Gardens during their meeting at the Vatican.