No abortion says Pope
Pope protests prochoice option for Catholics.
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Pope Benedict, underscoring the Vatican's ruling on an issue that divides Americans, told U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Catholic politicians and legislators cannot back abortion rights.

Pelosi, a powerful U.S. politician who is Catholic and pro-choice, has been accused by U.S. bishops in the past of misrepresenting Church teachings on abortion.

"His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural and moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death ..." a Vatican statement said.

It said such teaching "enjoins all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men of goodwill in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development," it said.

Storm of criticism
Pelosi met a storm of criticism from conservative Catholics in August when she told a talk show that the question of exactly when life begins "shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose".

She said when life began was still "an issue of controversy" in the Church and that "God has given us, each of us, a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions."

The Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception and ends at the moment of natural death.

In the past, both Pope Benedict and his predecessors have said that Catholic politicians cannot personally oppose abortion but publicly back abortion rights in the name of pluralism and democracy.

The Vatican says Catholic politicians should not let themselves be swayed by opinion polls and social trends.

The issue has deeply divided the Church in the United States as well as other industrialised countries, including Italy, where some Conservatives have called for Catholic politicians who back abortion rights to be excommunicated and barred from receiving communion.

Several days after his inauguration, President Barack Obama, with Pelosi's support, reversed a Bush administration ban on funding for groups abroad that provide abortion services.

Vatican officials criticised that change.

Do you think abortion is a political or a religious issue?

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