World's bishops to discuss whether Catholic politicians supporting abortion rights should receive communion

The senior American at the Vatican has urged a meeting of the world's bishops to discuss whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should receive communion, saying the issue had divided many Catholics in the U.S. Church.

Archbishop William Levada, who heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made the appeal during an hourlong debate late Monday at the synod of bishops, the Oct. 2-23 meeting of bishops discussing major issues facing the Church.

Levada also asked to hear the experiences of other Church leaders on the topic, according to the Rev. John Bartunek, who briefed reporters on developments in the closed-door meeting, the AP reports.

"This issue has caused some divisions among the people in the Church during the last election," referring to the 2004 presidential election, the briefer quoted Levada as saying. During the campaign, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said he would deny the Eucharist to Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion rights.

The working document for the synod said it was a sin for the faithful to support Catholic politicians who themselves back abortion and other policies contrary to Church teaching. AM

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