Pope seeks Anglican help on defending marriage

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Pope Francis meets the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during a private audience at the Vatican Friday, June 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis has waded diplomatically into the gay marriage debate, telling the Archbishop of Canterbury he wants to work together to promote family values “based on marriage.”

Francis, who vigorously opposed gay marriage in his native Argentina, and Archbishop Justin Welby met Friday for the first time since both were installed in March.

Welby has been opposing legislation in Britain that would legalize same-sex marriage, saying it would undermine family life.

Francis said he hoped they could collaborate in promoting the sacredness of life “and the stability of families founded on marriage.” Significantly, Francis didn’t say that marriage should be between a man and woman, which is how Benedict XVI routinely defined marriage.

Vatican officials said it was a diplomatic way of making his point without issuing a provocative pronouncement.

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