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N.J. governor says he won't take Communion in public

TRENTON, N.J. -- Governor James E. McGreevey, at odds with leaders of the Roman Catholic Church over his support for abortion rights, said yesterday that he will not receive Communion during public services.

McGreevey again refused to say whether he would take the sacrament in private, telling reporters that is a personal decision.

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said yesterday that abortion rights supporters should not seek Communion when they attend Mass. But Myers stopped short of saying that priests would refuse to serve it to Catholics who disagree with the church's position.

"With abortion, there can be no legitimate diversity of opinion," Myers said in a five-page pastoral statement published in yesterday's edition of The Catholic Advocate newspaper. "The direct killing of the innocent is always a grave injustice."

Myers's statement is not the first time a church official has challenged McGreevey's support of abortion and other social issues, such as domestic partnerships and stem cell research. Last week, Bishop Joseph A. Galante of Camden, the state's newest bishop, said he would refuse McGreevey if the governor sought Communion in the Camden diocese, citing McGreevey's divorce and remarriage. In March, the Trenton bishop faulted the governor for his social positions, saying he "is not a devout Catholic."

While some church officials have challenged McGreevey and other Catholic politicians, including presidential candidate Senator John F. Kerry, over their support for abortion rights, Myers's statement did not name any officials.

At a news conference yesterday, McGreevey said he respectfully disagrees with the archbishop but will honor his request and not receive Communion.

The governor said he is committed to both his Catholic faith and his prochoice stance on abortion and believes strongly in the separation of church and state.

"I believe it's a false choice in America between one's faith and constitutional obligation," McGreevey said.

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