April 19, 2008 / 6:00 PM / 10 years ago

Giuliani breaks rules by having Communion at papal mass

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Twice-divorced former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani took Communion at a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict on Saturday, breaching rules that bar those who remarry outside the Church from doing so.

As he left New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral with his third wife, Judith, the failed presidential candidate confirmed to Reuters that he took Communion from a priest.

Asked if he was uncomfortable with having broken the Church ban on the divorced and remarried taking Communion, Giuliani said, “No.”

The Church does not recognize divorce and teaches that divorced Catholics are still married to their earlier partner unless the Church grants them an annulment, or ruling that the initial marriage was invalid.

Giuliani unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for the White House this year. As New York mayor, he rose to prominence after the September 11 attacks, when he was hailed for his leadership during the crisis.

Despite his Catholic faith, Giuliani has espoused socially liberal political positions such as backing a woman’s right to choose an abortion and supporting gay rights.

Last year Pope Benedict reaffirmed that Catholics who divorce and remarry cannot receive Communion unless they abstain from sexual relations with their new partner.

But U.S. clergy tend to leave it up to individual parishioners who are divorced to refrain from taking Communion instead of excluding them from the sacred rite.

Catholics believe that during Mass, the Communion host and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

At Saturday’s Mass, the pope consecrated bread and wine that was distributed to the congregation by other priests. Giuliani did not take Communion from the pope himself.

During the presidential campaign, Giuliani said he had some “very, very strong views on religion” that come from him having wanted to be a priest when he was younger and studying theology for four years in college.

Among other politicians who attended the Mass was current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is Jewish.

Editing by Xavier Briand

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