London The leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales rejected what he called the "specter" of an American-style mixing of religion and politics on an Easter Sunday TV program.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said in an interview with GMTV that it's "perfectly legitimate" for church leaders to raise political issues, but he wouldn't tell Catholics which party to support.
With a national election approaching, probably in May, Murphy-O'Connor was accused of interfering in politics when he praised opposition Conservative Party leader Michael Howard for saying he favored reducing the legal limit on abortions from 24 weeks to 20.
The cardinal said it's "perfectly legitimate" for religious leaders to raise issues like abortion. But "I certainly was not saying that Catholics should vote for any one particular party," he said.
"Now the specter has been raised that we're going to have an American style. No, I want a British style. We do things differently here."
Prime Minister Tony Blair made a similar statement last month. "I do not want to end up with an American style of politics, with us all going out there beating our chest about our faith," he said. Blair said it's "a bit unhealthy" to use religion in the political process.