The controversy over the relationship between religion and politics continues right down to election day.

The latest chapter involves questions of political advertisements in Roman Catholic diocesan papers.

A half-page ad, featuring an uncaptioned photograph of a beaming President Reagan shaking hands with a smiling Pope John Paul II, has been rejected by more than a third of the papers that the Reagan-Bush campaign had targeted.

The ad begins simply with "President Reagan," and the text that accompanies the photo cites Reagan's stand on tuition tax credits, abortion, prayer in schools and his commitment to "hard work, faith in God and family." There is no mention of the pope.

The ad was rejected by 25 of "about 70" papers that received it "because of the picture of the pope and president together," said Anthony Duffy of Catholic Major Markets. This Pallotine, Ill., agency sells national advertisements -- from health insurance to hearing aids -- to the 164 diocesan newspapers in the country.

An official Vatican spokesman appeared to defend use of the papal photo. Archbishop John P. Foley, a former Philadelphian who heads the Vatican office for social communication told the National Catholic News Service: "While it would be unfortunate and unfair for any political leader to exploit the connection with a public figure, especially a religious figure, with whose goals he or she would be unsympathetic, it is not surprising that a political leader will emphasize a connection with a popular public figure with whose ideas and ideals he or she is in fundamental agreement."

Foley's successor as editor of the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Standard and Times, the Rev. David W. Givey, was one of the 25 religious editors who rejected the ad because it violated the paper's guidelines against endorsements, "direct or implied," by church officials.

Givey also rejected an ad for Mondale-Ferraro that was submitted by an ad hoc Washington-based group called Catholics for the Common Good. The ad, designed primarily for those dioceses whose bishops had stressed abortion as the preeminent issue for Catholic voters, was titled: "Does Reagan's Program Really Support Human Life?"

It cited the Reagan administration's cuts in a variety of social welfare programs, questioned the president's nuclear policy and quoted a statement from the United States Catholic bishops urging voters to evaluate political candidates "on the full range of issues."

Givey rejected the ad because the use of the bishops' words might be construed as an endorsement, he said. Catholics for the Common Good offered to remove the bishops' statement and make other changes, but the editor also rejected the revised version, contending that it was primarily an attack on Reagan and not positive enough about Mondale.

The weekly, which has a circulation of about 75,000, did carry two pro-Reagan ads, one sponsored by the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and the other by an independent group called Friends of Reagan.

Sister Maureen Fiedler of Mount Rainier, cofounder of Catholics for the Common Good, said the amended pro-Mondale ad submitted by her group was comparable in tone and style to the pro-Reagan ad of the Pro-Life Federation. "Frankly, it smells like political partisanship," she said.

The October 25 edition of the Washington Jewish Week broke with that paper's tradition and editorially endorsed Walter Mondale for president.

"During the second presidential debate, Ronald Reagan failed to convince us of his grasp of the foreign policy issues so vital to America and Israel alike," the editorial said.

"He refused to recognize the collapse of his policy in Lebanon. He glossed over the human rights issue -- so critical to Soviet Jewry -- and he was in a black hole on the subject of Star Wars," it said.

The paper gave the Reagan administration poor marks on "the environment, on civil rights, on women's issues and on aid to the needy . . . . And an administration that has run up the largest deficits in history cannot accuse its opponents of being big spenders."

The editorial also said that "Jews are deeply disturbed by the efforts of the evangelical right to Christianize America. The next president will certainly appoint the Supreme Court which will determine issues of church and state, civil rights and abortion . . . .

"We'd rather take our chances with the Mondale-Jackson entente than with the Reagan-Schlafly-Falwell troika." Geraldine Ferraro still "lacks the experience to serve as president . . . . But on the campaign trail, she has demonstrated a capacity for growth," the paper concluded.

A fledgling interfaith group has assailed criticism of Geraldine Ferraro that is "based on sexist reaction, rather than fair criticism of the candidate."

The Women of Faith Task Force took sharp exception to labels of "bitchy," "broad," and "girlfriend" in referring to the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Such language, they said, "reinforces the misogynistic tendencies in the culture and reveals deep-seated biases against the recognition of women as equal participants in the nation's democratic political processes."

The task force includes women from Roman Catholic, Jewish and a number of Protestant backgrounds. -- Marjorie Hyer