Vatican City - US President George W Bush drew gasps at the Vatican on Saturday by referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "sir" instead of the expected "His Holiness", pool reporters said.
They could clearly hear the US leader say "Yes, sir" when the pope asked him if he was going to meet with officials of the lay Catholic Sant'Egidio community at the US embassy later during his visit.
A handful of pool reporters were on hand as Benedict greeted Bush at the door of his private library ahead of a private audience of about half an hour.
On his way to see the 80-year-old pontiff, the US leader apparently recognised someone he knew, and could be heard greeting the person with a casual "How ya doin'?"
The pool reporters also noted Bush's relaxed posture, crossing his legs "Texan style" while facing the pope across his desk in the private study of the apostolic palace.
LSB: Lord knows I don't cut Bush-lite much slack, but he's a Methodist (as I am) and he was probably a little humbled (if that's possible) to be in the Pope's presence so I'm not gonna rag on him for this little gaffe. (True, he's got a whole State Dept who should have briefed him on Vatican protocol, but he never was much of a student.)