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Pope Meets With King and Queen of Spain

September 5, 2005

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) _ Pope Benedict XVI met Monday with the king and queen of Spain, a country that recently passed a gay marriage law bitterly opposed by the Roman Catholic Church.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia called on the pope at the Vatican’s summer residence in the Alban hills south of Rome.

The Vatican didn’t release a text of the pope’s comments; Vatican Television showed the pope greeting the king and queen, chatting with them at his desk and exchanging gifts.

Spain, where Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion, became the world’s third country on June 30 to legalize gay marriage, following the Netherlands and Belgium. Canada has since followed.

The king and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero signed the law in July.

The law is supported by a majority of political parties and _ according to opinion surveys _ most Spaniards. The Catholic Church and the main conservative opposition Popular Party fiercely opposed it.

Benedict has spoken out against same-sex unions, although he hasn’t specifically targeted the Spanish law. On June 6, he criticized same-sex unions as anarchic ``pseudo-matrimony.″

Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, also spearheaded a campaign by the Vatican against same-sex unions in 2003 when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He issued guidelines for Catholic politicians to oppose laws granting legal rights to gay couples.

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