Tim Kaine's Catholic Mutiny

Liberal Catholic candidates for public office such as Democratic nominee for vice president Tim Kaine often proclaim their Catholic identity to curry favor with this constituency, but when it comes to practicing the doctrines of their faith often are what are called “cafeteria Catholics”. They pick and chooses from what they might call the “Ten Suggestions”, particularly when it comes to a woman’s “right to choose”.

Unfortunately for Tim Kaine and fellow cafeteria devotees, there is no right to choose on what are called “doctrines of the church”, even if he seems to think so. On the issue of same-sex marriage, Kaine said in a recent speech to the 20th National Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. that he thought the Catholic Church would soon follow his lead on this issue:

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine, a practicing Catholic, on Saturday described his evolution on same-sex marriage and predicted that his church would change its views as well.

“My full, complete, unconditional support for marriage equality is at odds with the current doctrine of the church that I still attend,” Kaine said at a dinner celebrating gay rights. “But I think that’s going to change, too.”   

Representatives of the Catholic Church responded by saying, er, we don’t think so, suggesting this “practicing Catholic” needs a little more practice:

In a Facebook post titled “VP Pick, Tim Kaine, a Catholic?” Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence noted that Kaine “has been widely identified as a Roman Catholic” while at the same time “he publicly supports ‘freedom of choice’ for abortion, same-sex marriage, gay adoptions, and the ordination of women as priests.”

“All of these positions are clearly contrary to well-established Catholic teachings; all of them have been opposed by Pope Francis as well,” Tobin wrote, dashing the left’s spurious claim that Kaine is some kind of “Pope Francis Catholic.”

“Senator Kaine has said, ‘My faith is central to everything I do.’ But apparently, and unfortunately, his faith isn’t central to his public, political life,” Bishop Tobin concluded.

Similarly, in a recent column, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput also took issue with Kaine, as well as with the sitting Vice President, Joe Biden, the two most visible Catholics in American politics.

These two “prominent Catholics,” the Archbishop said, “both seem to publicly ignore or invent the content of their Catholic faith as they go along.”

Many in the Catholic hierarchy were not amused, reminding Kaine that Catholic Church doctrine on the issues of gay marriage and abortion are etched in the same stone as Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai:

“I think he has a very superficial and incomplete reading of the sections of Genesis that he’s referring to,” Bishop Tobin said. “It’s important to emphasize that we refer to the teachings of the Church, and that’s certainly true, but the teachings of the Church are not some arbitrary subjective formulation. The teachings of the Church are based on the revealed word of God. When it comes to something essential like marriage, we are not free to change our teachings because we didn’t make them up. They came to us from God.”

Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia, said in a Sept. 13 statement, “More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage, and despite recent statements from the campaign trail, the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year-old teaching to the truth about what constitutes marriage remains unchanged and resolute.”

Kaine is a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in the Diocese of Richmond.

In a Sept. 14 joint statement through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, and Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, reaffirmed the Church’s authoritative teachings on marriage “as it comes to us from God as the author of creation and of revelation.”

Said the bishops, “The Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage as exclusively the permanent, faithful and fruitful union of one man and one woman cannot change.” They also said an attempt “to redefine the essential meaning of marriage is acting against the Creator. It cannot be morally justified.”

On the issue of abortion, Kaine may have jumped the political shark in the VP debate, suggesting that a women’s right to chooses extends almost to the moment of birth, embracing partial-birth abortion.

“We support Roe v. Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience” and “make their own decision about pregnancy,” he said.

People of faith should be “convincing each other, dialoguing with each other about important moral issues of the day,” he added, “but on fundamental issues of morality, we should let women make their own decisions.”

He made no exceptions, despite Catholic Church doctrine that life begins at conception and ends at natural death, another position that has not changed in 2,000 years. Kaine, a supporter of ObamaCare, was not asked, nor did he volunteer any comments on the Obama-Clinton administration’s lawsuit against the Little Sisters of the Poor to force them to provide insurance that includes contraceptive in violation of their religious liberty and conscience. For Kaine, it seems to depend on whose conscience is being gored.

The Little Sisters of the Poor hold the view that the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment is not limited to one hour on a weekend but includes acting on faith in our daily lives. That was the motive behind the suit by the owners of Hobby Lobby, lost by the Obama administration. As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized:

The Little Sisters contend ObamaCare not only violates the First Amendment's religious guarantees, but also the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That requires the government to implement its policies in ways that do not impose an unnecessary burden on the free exercise of religion…

If the Little Sisters lose their case, they'll either have to violate their religious conscience or face fines of around $2.5 million a year, or about 40% of what they beg for annually to care for the dying poor. Their ministry would be severely crippled, as would the First Amendment's guarantee of religious liberty.

The Obama administration’s hostility to the free exercise of region was seen in the Hobby Lobby case in which the government argued that acting on your religious beliefs in your personal and business life was illegal. The courts ruled otherwise and that in the Hobby Lobby case agreed that this was an attempted infringement of the free exercise of religion:

So do scores of Catholic and non-Catholic institutions and businesses who argue either that the way they run their private businesses is an extension of their faith or that a church, something the federal government seeks to redefine, is not something that happens one hour a week on a Sunday but 24/7 through the hospitals, schools, soup kitchens and charities they may operate. They argue that acting out their faith through their works should not be illegal.

Kaine has said he is “personally opposed” to abortion, as if one can be “personally opposed” to any moral evil. How could one be “personally opposed” to slavery, for another example? Pence noted that Kaine, for political expediency, has checked his moral conscience at the door:

And then Pence took Kaine to task for his -- and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s -- support for abortion. Kaine has earned a 100 percent rating by the abortion rights group NARAL in his time in the Senate.

“The very idea that a child that is almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them is just anathema to me. And I can’t conscience about a party that supports that,” Pence said.

Despite what he has claimed publicly, Kaine supports repeal of the Hyde Amendment restricting public funding of abortions:

Democratic vice-presidential pick Tim Kaine has privately told nominee Hillary Clinton he will support repeal of the Hyde Amendment, a 1976 provision that bans the use of federal dollars for abortion services, Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson and Kaine spokeswoman Amy Dudley said Tuesday…

If Tim Kaine wants to advertise his Catholic faith, it might be wise to follow its teachings.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.