July 7, 2005

Catholics cannot support abortion rights-Vatican

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican on Thursday said too
many Roman Catholics were not taking their religion seriously
and that those faithful who receive communion and still support
abortion rights were behaving scandalously.

In an 88-page working document for a synod of bishops to be
held in October, the Vatican also decried dwindling attendance
at Sunday Mass and reaffirmed a rule that Catholics who divorce
and remarry outside the Church cannot take communion.

The document on the theme of the Eucharist said many
Catholics had lost the sense of the sacred surrounding
communion, which the Church teaches becomes the body and blood
of Christ during the Mass.

One part of the document returned to an issue that remains
particularly hot in the United States -- whether Catholics who
support abortion rights can receive communion.

"Some receive communion while denying the teachings of the
Church or publicly supporting immoral choices in life, such as
abortion, without thinking that they are committing an act of
grave personal dishonesty and causing scandal," it said.

"Some Catholics do not understand why it might be a sin to
support a political candidate who is openly in favor of
abortion or other serious acts against life, justice and
peace," it said.

The U.S. Catholic community was divided last year over
whether they should support presidential candidate John Kerry,
himself an Catholic who supported abortion rights.

Some Catholics say they personally would not have an
abortion but, in pluralistic societies such as the United
States, feel obliged to support a woman's right to choose.

But the Church, which teaches that life begins at the
moment of conception and that abortion is murder, says
Catholics cannot have it both ways.

The document lamented what it called "a crisis in the
meaning of belonging to the Church" and an inadequate
understanding of the Catholic teaching that the presence of
Christ in the Eucharist is real and not symbolic.

It said an increasingly secularized society had weakened
the sense of mystery in the sacrament of communion. Too few
Catholics were approaching communion with the "fear and
trembling" that the true presence of God warranted.

It also listed a series of other "deficiencies and shadows"
related to communion, lamenting that too many Catholics were
taking the sacrament while they were in a state of sin because
they had not gone to confession first.

"The faithful frequently receive Holy Communion without
even thinking that they might be in state of mortal sin," it

The taking of communion by divorced Catholics who remarry
outside the Church had become "a common occurrence in various
countries" even though it is officially forbidden.

The Catholic Church forbids divorce.

The document lamented that in some developed countries
participation at Sunday Mass was as low at 5 percent and again
urged the faithful to keep Sunday holy.