http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/Mike_Pense_Credit_Gage_Skidmore_via_Flickr_CC_BY_SA_20_Tim_Kaine_US_Department_of_Education_via_Wikipedia_CNA.jpgWashington D.C., Aug 4, 2016 / 03:26 am (CNA).- Although both major 2016 vice presidential nominees were raised Catholic and still profess to be Christians, their public policy records have drawn concern from some members of the faithful.
The “free exercise” of religion “is not simply about what you do in Church on Sunday morning,” Deacon Keith Fournier of the Common Good initiative told CNA. “It’s how you exercise that faith in every sector, whether it’s commerce, politics, participation – all of it.”
Both major nominees for vice president are baptized Catholics. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine still identifies as a Catholic and was seen at Sunday Mass on July 24 after he was picked by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to be her running mate.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence, meanwhile, was raised Catholic but identified in 1994 as a “born-again, evangelical Catholic.” He started attending an evangelical megachurch with his family in the 1990s. It is unclear which church Pence attends now.
“I’m a pretty ordinary Christian,” freelance journalist Craig Fehrman reported him saying. Pence told the audience at the Republican National Convention that he was a “Christian, conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”
Sen. Kaine is a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in the diocese of Richmond, Va. In his July 27 speech at the Democratic National Convention, he recalled his Jesuit education at Rockhurst High School where the motto was “men for others,” and spoke of his year of missionary work in Honduras with Jesuits.
Both Pence and Kaine have drawn controversy for their public policy positions. While Sen. Kaine has said he’s “personally opposed” to abortion, he has received a 100 percent rating in 2016 from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the nation’s largest abortion provider, and a perfect rating in 2015 from NARAL Pro-Choice America.
More recently, it was reported that he privately told Hillary Clinton that he would support overturning the Hyde Amendment, a 40 year-old policy that prevents federal dollars from directly funding most abortions.
Just before Pope Francis’ U.S. visit last September, Sen. Kaine voted against bringing a 20-week abortion ban to a vote on the Senate floor. He explained his vote:
“Because it violates the 14th Amendment and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent, I voted against it. Nothing in my Catholic faith suggests that I should support legislation that violates the Constitution. In fact, I take an oath as a Senator to support the Constitution, ‘so help me God.’”
He added that he would “truly listen” to Pope Francis during his visit, “instead of using the Papal visit as just another political opportunity” as he accused the Senate Republicans of doing in trying to bring the bill to a vote.
After the Pope addressed the joint meeting of Congress, the senator noted how Pope Francis set “high expectations” for the members “because he can look into our history and culture and see these examples that have been really powerful, and that there isn’t any reason we can’t rise to that same level of achievement today - whether it’s tackling climate change or economic injustice or the migrant crisis that is seen throughout the world.”
As Governor of Virginia, Kaine also personally opposed the death penalty, but his term saw 11 executions with only one commuted death sentence, the New York Times reported.
Shortly after the announcement of Kaine’s candidacy, Bishop Thomas DiLorenzo of Richmond issued a statement saying, “The Catholic Church makes its position very clear as it pertains to the protection of human life, social justice initiatives, and the importance of family life.”
“From the very beginning, Catholic teaching informs us that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death. The right to life is a fundamental, human right for the unborn and any law denying the unborn the right to life is unequivocally unjust.”
A Catholic cannot be “personally opposed” to abortion while allowing its public practice, Deacon Fournier told CNA.
Because “the dignity of every human person” is the “most important” part of public policy, he continued, to support the taking of innocent life in the womb is a gravely wrong position that undermines all other areas of public policy.
“If we do not recognize the dignity of every human life, everything else falls,” he said. “The entire structure of human rights falls.”