Gov. James E. McGreevey, at odds with leaders of the Roman Catholic Church over his support of abortion rights, said Wednesday he will not receive communion at public services.
McGreevey refused to say if he would take the sacrament from a priest in private, calling that a personal decision.
Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said in a statement earlier Wednesday that abortion rights supporters should not seek communion when they attend Mass. Myers stopped short of saying priests would refuse to give it to Catholics who disagree with the church’s position.
“With abortion, there can be no legitimate diversity of opinion,” Myers wrote in Wednesday’s Catholic Advocate newspaper. “The direct killing of the innocent is always a grave injustice.”
While some church officials have challenged McGreevey and other Catholic politicians, including presidential candidate John Kerry, over their support for abortion rights, Myers’ statement did not name any officials.
McGreevey said he respectfully disagrees with the archbishop but will honor his request and not receive communion in public.
The governor said he is committed to both his Catholic faith and his pro-choice 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.
Last week, the bishop in Camden said he would refuse McGreevey if the governor sought communion in the his 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.”