The Most Reverend Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, took to Facebook to criticize Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine. It’s pretty damning:
VP Pick, Tim Kaine, a Catholic?
Democratic VP choice, Tim Kaine, has been widely identified as a Roman Catholic. It is also reported that 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.
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.
Sen. Kaine’s support for abortion rights is going to be an issue. John Kerry dealt with this in 2004, most memorably when then-Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis said that he would deny Communion to Kerry. Pope Benedict XVI elevated Burke to the College of Cardinals in 2010.
Vice President Joe Biden has also come under fire for how he reconciles his Catholic faith with his pro-choice views, votes, and advocacy.
While Catholic politicians who support abortion rights have a long history of trying to reconcile the tension, the struggle has become more intense as the Democratic Party is ever less accommodating of the view that abortion should be criminalized.
With the party poised to adopt its most pro-choice platform yet — with planks that fundamentally reject the idea that moral concerns about abortion should restrict access to the procedure in any way — Kaine is going to be an easy target.
Bishop Tobin says that Kaine “has been identified” as a Roman Catholic. The suggestion is that maybe Kaine should stop identifying as Catholic as long as he publicly persists in these views. At a minimum, the bishop says that, contrary to Kaine’s own words, his faith is not central to his public, political life.
Watch closely to see if any more prominent bishops or Vatican officials comment on Kaine’s faith or his worthiness to receive Communion.
My prediction is that Kaine will have to come up with a better answer than what he has given to date. Does he still favor restrictions like informed consent, parental notification, and late-term abortion bans? What does he think of the way abortion politics get dragged into healthcare and foreign policy? Is legal abortion a sign of moral progress or moral decay?
Though Kaine has a 100% rating from abortion-rights interest groups, many progressives expressed disappointment in his selection. In addition to concerns about his views on economics and trade, some felt slighted that Mrs. Clinton did not select a running mate who was more enthusiastic about abortion rights.