President Barack Obama wants to limit the number of legal abortions in the United States.

That’s the message Obama conveyed to Pope Benedict XVI during the first meeting between the two leaders last Friday, according to the Associated Press.

Some say the meeting should help repair the US leader’s relations with America’s Catholic hierarchy.

During a private 35-minute meeting, the President told the Pope even though he supports a woman’s right to have an abortion he said the procedure should be rare.

Diplomats said the meeting would help Obama counteract the hostility of conservative American Catholic bishops who oppose his lifting of President George W. Bush’s ban on government funding for stem cell research.

Sources said the Pope and the president had found common ground on poverty, peace in the Middle East and the need to reach out to the Muslim world. Obama’s Muslim father enrolled him in a Catholic school as a child in Indonesia. He is now a Protestant who says he is taking his time deciding which church to join.

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