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Obama, Francis find common ground, sharp divisions

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VATICAN CITY — Sharp differences over abortion and birth control surfaced as President Barack Obama held his first meeting today with Pope Francis, even as the president sought to emphasize common ground issues like economic inequality during a much-anticipated Vatican visit.

After Obama’s hourlong audience with the pope, the Vatican said discussions centered on questions of “particular relevance for the church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection” — issues that have fueled divisions between Obama and Catholics in the U.S.

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