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Spanish PM talks crisis with Pope Francis

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Spanish PM talks crisis with Pope Francis
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy gave Pope Francis a Spain jersey during a private audience in the pontiff's library. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino/AFP
15:34 CEST+02:00
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday became the first European leader to meet with Pope Francis, with the Vatican saying the two discussed the country's steep economic crisis.

Talks focused on the economic crisis "that Spain is facing along with other European countries, which has provoked a grave employment crisis that involves many families, particularly the young," the Vatican said in a statement.

The role of the Roman Catholic Church in helping those most in need in Spain through charities like Cáritas was underlined during the talks.

Rajoy, a conservative who has been under fire for months over corruption allegations, also talked about the political situation in Spain with the new Argentine pope.

The two "reaffirmed the need for a dialogue in society and between all its components, based on mutual respect and taking into account values including justice and solidarity in a search for the common good," the Vatican said.

The statement added that the two men had discussed "the institution of marriage and the family and the importance of a religious education".

The Vatican is fiercely opposed to a Spanish law that allows same-sex marriages, passed under Rajoy's Socialist predecessor Jose Luis Zapatero.

The law also lets gay couples adopt children and inherit each others' property.

Polls show two-thirds of Spaniards back same-sex marriage.

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