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Pope tells Obama of concern for "religious freedom" in US

Published on Mar 28, 2014 12:12 AM

VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) - Pope Francis and Vatican officials on Thursday told US President Barack Obama they were concerned about "religious freedom" in the United States, an apparent reference to the contraception mandate in Mr Obama's health care plan.

Mr Obama held nearly an hour of private talks with the pope and then the president and Secretary of State John Kerry held separate talks with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and other diplomats.

The talks included "discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church" in the United States, including "the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection," a Vatican statement said.

The 2010 healthcare law, widely opposed by Republicans, includes a provision that requires employers to cover the cost of contraception in their health insurance plans.

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