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updated: 1/31/2014 6:59 AM

Notre Dame officials meet with Pope Francis

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Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The University of Notre Dame's president told Pope Francis he hopes the school's new center in Rome will help the university expand its service to the Vatican.

The Rev. John Jenkins, his leadership team and Notre Dame board of trustees members met with the pope Thursday during an hour-long private audience in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.

University officials say Pope Francis told the group during the meeting that it is essential for Catholic universities to bear uncompromising witness to the church's moral teaching and the defense of its freedom.

University officials say Pope Francis showed his sense of humor during the meeting. When Jenkins mistakenly went to sit for a photo in a chair meant for a cardinal, the pope joked, "Oh, you're very ambitious."

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