TV & Radio
Catholics cannot support abortion rights-Vatican
By Philip Pullella
Thu Jul 7, 7:27 AM ET - 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 said.
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.