Catholic presidential candidate is challenged over support for abortion
BY FREDDY GRAY
A SENIOR American bishop has told Rudi Giuliani, the Catholic presidential candidate, that he would refuse him Communion because of the politician's public support for abortion.
Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis, who courted controversy in the run up to the 2004 elections by threatening to bar Democrat contender John Kerry, another Catholic, from the Eucharist because of his pro-choice views, said that he would apply the same nde to the Republican frontrunner Mr Giuliani.
"If any politician approached me and he'd been admonished not to present himself, I'd not give it," said Archbishop Burke. "To me, you have to be certain a person realises he is persisting in a serious public sin."
The archbishop was asked if he would extend the same restrictions to politicians who supported the death penalty or unjust war. "It's a little more complicated in that case," he replied.
Mr Giuliani appeared unfazed by the archbishop's remarks. "I'm not running for religious office," he told reporters last week.
"I'm not going to debate the opinion of an archbishop of the Catholic Church or an official of the Prokstant Church or a rabbi," Mr Giuliani said.
"That's an interpretation of religion. They're entitled to their interpretation of religion."
In another interview, the presidential contender said: "Archbishops have a right to their opinion, you know. There's freedom of religion in this country. There's no established religion, and aithbishops have a right to their opinion. Everybody has a right to their opinion."
Archbishop Burke has said that priests are morally obliged to refuse Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights despite the clear teaching of the Church.
Earlier this year the archbishop wrote an article for a Church law journal on the subject of barring politicians from the Eucharist. America's bishops are divided on the issue. Some say that the individual should decide whether he or she can in good conscience receive Communion.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is expected to discuss the question again at meetings next month. Archbishop Burke said that his recent article did not represent the views of his conference, merely his own inteipretation of Canon Law.
A number of other presidential hopefuls hold pro-choice views, though Mr Giuliani is the only Catholic among the leading candidates.
Mr Giuliani, former Mayor of New York, sometimes refers to his Catholic upbringing in his bid to become president, but he declines to say whether he is a practising Catholic.
In August the former mayor of New York was asked if he was a "traditional, practising Roman Catholic." He replied: "My religious affiliation, my religious practices and the degree to which I am a good or not-so-good Catholic, I prefer to leave to the priests."
Last week Mr Giuliani, who wanted to be a Catholic priest when he was younger, told the Christian Broadcasting Network that he had "very, very strong views on religion-.
He said: "I'm guided very, very often about 'Don't judge others, lest you be judged.' So [religion] is a very, very important part of my life," he said. "But I think in a democracy and in a government like ours, my religion is my way of looking at God. and other people have other ways of doing it, and some people don't believe in God. I think that's unfortunate. I think their life would be a lot fuller if they did, but they have that right."
After the 2004 presidential election it emerged that an unprecedented number of Catholics had voted for the Republican President George W Bush in recognition of his strong stand against abortion.
Some electoral analysts suggested that President Bush's appeal to Catholic voters was the key to his electoral success.
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