Anti-abortion Catholics can support pro-choice candidates, as long as they agree with the candidate on a range of other issues.
That pronouncement in an Italian magazine from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's top spokesman on Catholic teachings, went unnoticed in the din of presidential election-year politics.
But it could reverberate in a close election, which pits President George W. Bush, a conservative Christian abortion opponent, against Democratic Sen. John Kerry, a Catholic who favors abortion rights.
In essence, a vote for a pro-choice politician is not necessarily sinful if a Catholic, who is also against abortion, believes the candidate's other positions outweigh the politician's support for abortion rights, Ratzinger said. He heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.