VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2005 ( The new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is urging the Synod of Bishops to discuss whether voters who support pro-abortion candidates should be receiving Communion.

Archbishop William Levada, who succeeded Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as prefect of the dicastery, quoted No. 73 of the working document of the Synod on the Eucharist, in which reference is made to the relationship between the Eucharist, morality and public life.

The archbishop today suggested that the experience of other countries be heard, after noting that the issue has divided the Church in his country, the United States.

No. 73 states that "too many receive the sacrament without having sufficiently reflected on their moral state in life," and adds that "[s]ome 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."

Archbishop Levada suggested that the synod, in its small-group discussions, debate the problem of Catholics "who 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."

Crisis in meaning

No. 73 of the "instrumentum laboris," or working document, warns that "[s]uch attitudes lead to, among other things, a crisis in the meaning of belonging to the Church and in a clouding of the distinction between venial and mortal sin."

According to Isidro Catela, the Spanish reporter on the Synod of Bishops, the synodal fathers are especially interested in reflecting further on the "horizontal dimension" of the Eucharist, which has been "neglected."

This dimension is the one that links the Eucharist with social transformation. "One cannot come out of the Eucharist the same as one entered it," a phrase heard repeatedly in the Synod Hall, said Catela. "From the Eucharist must flow a certain style of communitarian life."