Brazil's Rousseff reaches out to religious voters
* Rousseff says she is of Catholic origin, for life
* Says would govern for all religious denominations
By Raymond Colitt
BRASILIA, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Brazil's ruling party candidate on Tuesday played up her Roman Catholic background in efforts to win back religious voters, whose doubts about her faith and position on abortion rights may have cost her an outright victory in Sunday's presidential election.
Dilma Rousseff of the center-left ruling Workers' Party, fell short of winning an absolute majority on Sunday and will face runner-up Jose Serra of the opposition's centrist PSDB party in a runoff on Oct. 31.
In a surprise shift, many religious voters who oppose abortion, especially evangelical Christians, abandoned the Rousseff camp to vote for the Green Party's Marina Silva, who captured an unexpectedly large 19 percent of the vote.
"Personally, I'm from a Catholic family. I am and always was in favor of life," Rousseff told reporters outside of her campaign headquarters in Brasilia.
"I have no problem addressing the religious issue. My project addresses all the religions," she said.
Full coverage of election: [ID:nBRAZIL]
Election Top News page: link.reuters.com/dux43p
Special report on Rousseff: link.reuters.com/fab25p
Graphic on polls: link.reuters.com/vux47n
Political risks in Brazil: [ID:nRISKBR]
Pro-life usually is a description associated with opponents of abortion rights. She did not elaborate on her position.
Internet videos showing Rousseff's past comments on abortion became a hit in recent weeks. They showed Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla leader, apparently favoring the decriminalization of abortion, which is illegal in most cases.
Evangelical Christians are growing in influence in Brazil and now make up about 20 percent of the population in the overwhelmingly Catholic country.
Rousseff and Serra have begun courting Silva, a devout evangelical Christian, in hopes of winning over her supporters.
Leaders of the Green Party said on Tuesday they would not decide for another two weeks whether to endorse either of the candidates.
Rousseff got 46.9 percent in Sunday's first-round vote and needs just a few more percentage points to win a majority and ride the popularity of her mentor, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of the Workers' Party, into the presidential palace. (Editing by Xavier Briand)
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