Following is the prepared text of President Carter's remarks at a reception yesterday honoring Pope John Paul II.
My friends, fellow Americans of every faith -- I greet you here today with both pride and pleasure.
We have been privileged to meet at the White House with an extraordinary man -- Pope John Paul -- one who will mean even more to us and to the world as we move to meet the complex challenges which inevitably will confront us.
Our nation was not founded to deny human beings a life of the spirit, but to welcome the spiritual into our lives -- and I join all Americans in welcoming Pope John Paul with open hearts into the lives of a free nation.
As a scholar, a poet, a philosopher and a pastor, you have come to know us and to talk about gentleness, humility, forgiveness and love. You have taught us that we are not perfect, and that we are responsible for our own behavior.
You show a particular concern for human dignity. You know that many are fearful, but that a person with faith need not be afraid. Our religious faith is, indeed, relevant to the modern world.
We have been greatly blessed in this country. We know that to whom much has been given, much will be required. You have reminded us of our responsibilities.
America was founded to give a home to all who sought religious freedom. For us today, freedom of religion is not just a valued relic of national pride. It is a practical necessity for our nation's forward course.
For, as we face difficult, painful, often disheartening transformations in our lives, now, as never before, our nation needs all the spiritual strength that has been gained and nurtured through our long history of freedom.
Long before he became pope, Karol Wojtyla, as a priest in his native Poland, wrote these words of poetry:
"We stand in front of our future. . .
Which opens and closes at the same time.
This afternoon Pope John Paul and I met alone in the Oval Office, and discussed the future.
We share a belief that the church must in no way be confused with the political community, nor bound to any political system."
But we also spoke of opportunities we might pursue together.
We will work to renew the spiritual strength that can bear us beyond the blind materialism to true caring for one another -- in our families, in our communities, in our nations, and in our world. And we will pursue this goal through action, not just words.
I join His Holiness in urging all individuals and nations of the world to alleviate the hunger of people and the homelessness of refugees -- not as political acts, but as acts of humanitarian concern. We cannot profess to love humanity and watch hundreds of thousands of men, women and children die in a human tragedy we can prevent with prompt and generous action.
In another area of opportunity -- concern and action on behalf of human rights -- we have long shared a common purpose. As His Holiness has written. "The essential sense of the state, as a political community, consists in that the society and people composing it are master and sovereign of their own destiny."
We call on all people and all nations to look beyond ancient hatreds, differences in race, customs, traditions and beliefs -- to see the shared humanity in every other human being. Whenever state and religion can do that, then violations of the human rights of any person anywhere in the world -- whatever cause may be claimed in justification -- will be seen to be, as Your Holiness has so accurately described them: "warfare on humanity" itself.
It is abhorrent in our time to allow differences in the way God's children worship the same Father to wound each other, when our common faith could do so much to heal each other.
All of us share full responsibility for seizing another opportunity; in a world filled with weapons there can be no more urgent passion than to wage and win the struggle for peace -- for the sake of every living thing.
We must, above all, wrest the fateful lightning of nuclear destruction from the hands of man. We must successfully conclude our nuclear arms agreements, and in this continuing effort we must find a way to end the threat of nuclear annihilation forever.
The age of nuclear weaponry can be either long or short, as we choose. We must continue the common struggle for peace.
In closing, let me repeat the phrase from your poem: "We stand in front of our future."
Fellow Americans, in the presence of this good man, as we pause quietly for these few minutes in our sometimes frantic pace, we ask ourselves: What is important? Waht is progress? What are we creating which we need to fear? In his last hours, Jesus prayed for his disciples, "Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou has given me, that they may be one, even as we are one." And we are reminded: "God is love."
Let all of us here today of every faith stand as one -- for peace and justice and for love.
Let us vow that what our Creator has made -- human life and human spirit -- we shall not destroy.
Let us simply choose to change the world -- as best we can -- each from our individual place, but towards the common purposes of just societies on a peaceful planet.
Our new friend, the people of my country have waited a long time for this meeting.
As human beings each acting for justice in the present -- and striving together towards a common future of peace and love -- let us not wait so long to meet again.