Pope Francis on Saturday appeared to call on French lawmakers to repeal the country's nascent gay marriage law.

After a raucous debate which included massive demonstrations and an increase in homophobic attacks, France last month became the 14th nation to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples. The Roman Catholic Church in France strongly opposed passage of the law.

Speaking to members of the French Senate and Assembly at the Vatican, Francis told lawmakers that their “duty … involves proposing, amending and abolishing legislation.”

“However, it is also necessary to instil something extra in them, I would say a spirit, a soul, that does not limit itself to reflecting the modalities and ideas of the moment, but which also confers upon them the indispensable quality that elevates and dignifies the human person,” Francis said, according to a transcript provided by Vatican Radio.

Francis defended the church's role in influencing public policy.

“The principles of secularism which governs the relations between the French state and the various religious denominations should not imply that there is a hostility towards the religious reality, or an exclusion of religions from the social sphere and the debates which enliven them. One can rejoice in the fact that French society is rediscovering proposals made by the Church, which, among other things, offer a certain vision of the person and his or her dignity in light of the common good.”

The pope also danced around the issue of marriage equality on Friday, when he received Archbishop Justin Welby, the head of the Church of England.

Francis urged Welby to continue affirming “the importance of the institution of the family built on marriage, a value that you yourself have had occasion to recall recently.”

Welby had in fact condemned a proposed marriage bill being debated in England.

“The concept of marriage as a normative place for procreation is lost. The idea [of] marriage as covenant is diminished. The family in its normal sense, predating the state, and as our base community of society, as we have already heard, is weakened,” Welby told colleagues on the floor of the House of Lords.