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Ratzinger clarification says it's OK to vote for pro-abortion politicians

In a memorandum, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has said it is not necessarily sinful for Catholics to vote for politicians who support abortion, as long as they are voting for that candidate for other reasons.

He was lahying out the principles under which bishops or other ministers may deny Communion to Catholic politicians who consistently promote legal abortion.

Catholic News Service reports that Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sent the six-point memorandum to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who heads an episcopal task force on Catholic politicians. It was designed to offer guidance to the US bishops when they discussed the Communion/abortion issue at their mid-June meeting near Denver.

"Through this continuing process, the Holy See has constantly emphasized it is up to our bishops' conference to discuss and determine how best to apply the relevant principles and for individual bishops to make prudent pastoral judgments in our own circumstance," Cardinal McCarrick said.

Cardinal Ratzinger's comments on Catholic voters -- in private communication briefly outlining principles for consideration rather than exploring them in depth -- came at the end of the memorandum. It touched on an evolving issue that is important to many Catholics during the 2004 presidential election campaign: The presumptive Democratic candidate, John Kerry, is a Catholic who supports legal abortion.

Two US bishops -- Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis and Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs -- recently said that Catholics who knowingly vote for pro-abortion politicians would be committing a grave sin.

Cardinal Ratzinger lays out principles on denying Communion, voting (Catholic News Service 6/7/04)

Cardinal McCarrick says leaked Ratzinger memo is not whole story (Catholic News Service 6/7/04)
Controversy over Communion to pro-abortion politicians continues (Catholic News Agency 7/7/04)

8 Jul 2004