The Catholicism of Citizen Kaine

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Democratic nominee for Vice President, has stated that his Catholic faith guides him as an official in evaluating public policies.

  • “Kaine talks seriously about his own Catholicism. ‘My faith is central to everything I do,’ he said. ‘My faith position is a Good Samaritan position of trying to watch out for the other person.’” [US Senate Race][1]
  • “I went to a Jesuit boy’s high school, Rockhurst High School. … we had a motto in my school, ‘men for others.’ And it was there that my faith became something vital.  My north star for orienting my life. And when I left high school, I knew that I wanted to battle for social justice.”  [VP Acceptance Speech, Democratic Convention][2]
  • “I’m kind of a, look, traditional Catholic. I don’t like it personally. I’m opposed to abortion. … So I’ve taken a position which is quite common among Catholics. I’ve got a personal feeling about abortion…”  [Meet the Press, 6/26/16][3]

Fr. Jim Arsenault, Senator Kaine’s Catholic pastor in Richmond, largely agrees: “[Tim is] in the choir … This past Good Friday … Tim was in back of church. And I said … Tim, we need your help. Help us carry this cross. It was sort of life-size. And he said sure. … The church has a teaching with regard to we’re pro-life, and we believe in that seamless garment of life.  We respect sometimes lawmakers make difficult decisions.”[4]

The Washington Post noted in 2012, during Kaine’s race for the U.S. Senate, that, “For Kaine, religion saturates both life and politics.  A former missionary in rural Honduras …Faith has been one of the twin pillars of Kaine’s political success.”[5]

The Jesuit magazine, America, took issue with Senator Kaine over his statements on the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal expenditures for most Medicaid abortions.[6]  And a group of Virginia Catholics recently picketed Tim Kaine’s parish church in Richmond. “They claim his voting record contradicts the Catholic faith, particularly on issues of abortion and gay marriage. ‘You [Kaine] are a CINO, you are a Catholic in name only,’ organizer Frances Bouton said.”[7]

As Catholics, the Catechism instructs us that “…to intervene directly in the political structuring and organization of social life. … is part of the vocation of the lay faithful, acting on their own initiative with their fellow citizens.”[8]  As Catholic citizens we are called to “use the framework of Catholic social teaching to examine candidates’ positions on issues affecting human life and dignity ….”[9]

Mr. Kaine’s claim that his policies are guided by the Catholic faith should be examined.

KAINE-ABORTION:  Senator Kaine’s U.S. Senate website indicates that he is opposed to any weakening of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court which struck down all state laws banning abortion.  Elsewhere, Kaine notes, “I’ve got a personal feeling about abortion, but the right role for government is to let women make their own decisions.”[10]

Kaine’s position on abortion has evolved, or perhaps revolved, since he ran for Virginia Governor in 2005.  In CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper, the following was noted:

“This is a radio ad from 2005.  LT. GOV. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA:  I support restrictions on abortion, parental consent for minors, a ban on partial-birth abortion, no public funding of abortions.  Those are my values and that’s what I believe.  …

[TAPPER]  Those are his values, at least in 2005.  Those are not Secretary Clinton’s values [MOOK] … what’s important is to look at his record in the Senate.  He had a 100 percent voting record with Planned Parenthood and other – the National Abortion Rights Action League as well.  And he has said that he will stand with Secretary Clinton to defend a woman’s right to choose, to repeal the Hyde amendment.  So, you know, voters can be 100 percent confident that Tim Kaine is going to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.”[11]

Kaine is working hard to be on both sides of the tax-paid abortion funding question especially after his selection to be Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Vice-Presidential running mate:

“I have been for the Hyde Amendment.  And I have not changed my position on that,” Kaine said … on CNN’s ‘New Day.’  Karen Finney, a senior Clinton campaign spokeswoman who is also working with Kaine, said he would keep his personal views but also support a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds for abortion.  ‘As Tim Kaine has said, while he supports the Hyde Amendment, he has also made it clear that he is fully committed to Hillary Clinton’s policy agenda, which he understands includes repeal of Hyde.’”[12]

CATHOLIC TEACHING:  In 2002, then Cardinal Ratzinger dismissed the notion of a dual conscience which approves acts in private, but supports them in public: “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.”[13]  And, “It is a question of the lay Catholic’s duty to be morally coherent, found within one’s conscience, which is one and indivisible.  There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called ‘spiritual life’ … and on the other, the so-called ‘secular’ life … in the responsibilities of public life and in culture.”[14]

Regarding abortion, U.S. Catholic Bishops note that, “It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice.  A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.”[15]

KAINE-MARRIAGE & ADOPTION:  As U.S. Senator, Tim Kaine applauded the Richmond federal Appeals Court decision striking down Virginia’s 2006 voter-approved Marriage Amendment:  “Today’s decision is a victory for … equality.  I campaigned against the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in 2006 and was very disappointed when it passed. I am gratified that the 4th Circuit Court has recognized that this discriminatory provision has no rightful place in the Virginia Constitution.”[16]

As Senator, he signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court that argued against the Defense of Marriage Act which allowed a state to refuse recognition of an out-of-state same-sex “marriage” or civil union.  The March, 2013 brief stated, “DOMA’s intrusion into a matter that Congress had previously left to the States contradicts traditional principles of federalism by conditioning federal respect on a State’s agreement with Congress.”[17]

Two years later in March, 2015, Kaine reversed himself, signing a second pro LGBT brief urging rejection of the same state laws he had previously asked the Supreme Court to uphold: “… sexual orientation is not a presumptively valid ground for state or federal authorities to classify citizens. Heightened scrutiny is the appropriate standard. … As federal legislators, we believe the state bans at issue violate the Equal Protection Clause …”[18]

When Tim Kaine was still Virginia governor, in late 2009, the Kaine Administration proposed regulations which would have required all state-licensed adoption agencies, including private religious-based groups, to place children with homosexual couples.[19]  At that time Virginia followed federal law and prohibited private and public adoption agencies from rejecting applicants based on national origin, race and color.  Kaine wanted to add sexual orientation.  The Virginia Social Services Board rejected Kaine’s attempt to require religious agencies to place children with same-sex couples.[20]

During Kaine’s 2012 Senate race he did indicate support for same-sex couple adoptions.  Kaine: Gay couples should be allowed to adopt: “U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine believes gay couples should be able to adopt if a judge deems it in the best interest of the child …”[21]  Lastly, with the June, 2015 Supreme Court decision rendering one-man, one-woman state marriage laws and constitutional amendments unconstitutional, Kaine said, “I welcome the end of discriminatory bans that have … denied same-sex couples the privileges, responsibilities, and joys of marriage.”[22]

CATHOLIC TEACHING:  Cardinal Ratzinger again in 2002 rejected any attempt by civil authorities to recognize so-called same-sex “marriage.”  “… the family needs to be safeguarded and promoted, based on monogamous marriage between a man and a woman, and protected in its unity and stability … in no way can other forms of cohabitation be placed on the same level as marriage, nor can they receive legal recognition as such.”

The U.S. Catholic Bishops have stated that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman:

“The natural structure of human sexuality makes man and woman complementary partners for the transmission of human life. Only a union of male and female can express the sexual complementarity willed by God for marriage. …

“… This unique complementarity makes possible the conjugal bond that is the core of marriage a same-sex union … is not based on the natural complementarity of male and female; it cannot cooperate with God to create new life; and the natural purpose of sexual union cannot be achieved by a same-sex union. … it is wrong to equate their relationship to a marriage.

“… Thus, marriage is a personal relationship with public significance. …  The state rightly recognizes this relationship as a public institution in its laws because the relationship makes a unique and essential contribution to the common good.  Laws … giving same-sex unions the legal status of marriage would grant official public approval to homosexual activity and would treat it as if it were morally neutral.”[23]

Pope Francis has noted: “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s growth and emotional development.”[24]

KAINE-RELIGIOUS LIBERTY:  Tim Kaine opposed the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case which held that private employers could, on religious grounds, refuse to subsidize birth control for their employees through employer-offered health plans.  He mischaracterized the decision claiming that “an employer, for religious reasons, may deprive employees of health care coverage for contraception … I am mystified that the Court chose to join an ideological battle against contraception.”[25]

The business owners had only opposed post-conception (abortifacient) birth control.  “The owners of three closely held for-profit corporations have sincere Christian beliefs that life begins at conception and that it would violate their religion to facilitate access to contraceptive drugs or devices that operate after that point.”[26]  Further, declining to pay for third-party benefits does not “deny” access to such services.

Kaine spoke in favor of a bill he co-sponsored to reverse the Hobby Lobby decision.

“[w]hether the church or religiously affiliated institution, or an individual or even a corporation has as their view that contraception is wrong, they can take to the airwaves … They’re protected in their religious liberty to try to encourage people to follow their points of view.  But … to go beyond that, in this case corporations …  whether it’s lawsuits or personhood amendments … to reduce access to contraception for women – even women who do not share their moral point of view …  then I view that as … actually contrary to … religious freedom that is established in the first amendment.  Advocate a moral position, but don’t force it on to people who have a different moral viewpoint.”[27]

The Murray-Udall bill would specifically prohibit any employer, including non-profits, from claiming religious protection under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.[28]  Thus, Catholic Senator Kaine would compel the 175-year-old Little Sisters of the Poor, which opened their first home in America in 1868 and who now serve 13,000 elderly and poor in the U.S. and overseas, to pay tens of millions in fines, which would shut them down,  or agree to violate their religious conscience and teachings.  Kaine’s “objection” to forcing people with a different viewpoint to follow the government’s view seems hollow.

CATHOLIC TEACHING: “This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. …[A]ll men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. … The freedom or immunity from coercion in matters religious which is the endowment of persons as individuals is also to be recognized as their right when they act in community. Religious communities are a requirement of the social nature both of man and of religion itself.”[29]

KAINE GENDER IDEOLOGY:  On May 2, 2016, Sen. Kaine and 39 other Senate Democrats wrote to the Secretary of Education acknowledging that Title IX only prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, that the DOE and DOJ now hold that differential treatment of a student “because the sex assigned to him at birth does not match his gender identity is literally discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’”  Kaine and colleagues wanted the DOE to “…clarify that state laws requiring discrimination against LGBT students run afoul of Title IX and jeopardize states’ and school districts’ continued receipt of federal funding …”[30]  This of course is a threat against states which do not allow boys claiming to be girls to use locker rooms, bathrooms, and sleeping accommodations on school trips designated for girls.  The Senators want the DOE to “amend” the Title IX law without the messy constitutional process of having it pass Congress.

CATHOLIC TEACHING:  While Sen. Kaine uses the language of discrimination, the reality is that this change would become a legal club to use against those who seek to uphold the truth about the human person and sexuality.  Pope Francis recently rejected such “gender ideology” as well as the use of monetary threats to impose this policy.  “We are experiencing a moment of the annihilation of man as the image of God … behind all this there are ideologies. … one of these … is [the ideology of]‘gender.’  Today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this? Because the books are provided by the persons and institutions that give you money. These forms of ideological colonization are also supported by influential countries. And this is terrible!”[31]

CONCLUSION:   Support for fundamental issues like life and marriage by a candidate for Vice President or other elective office should be considered a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition for receiving a vote.  Thus, the Catholic Bishops have noted that, “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet if a candidate’s position on a single issue promotes an intrinsically evil act, such as legal abortion, redefining marriage in a way that denies its essential meaning, or racist behavior, a voter may legitimately disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”[32]

Tim Kaine could avoid the controversy if he were to “stop talking about his faith.  If you don’t portray yourself as a ‘Catholic’ candidate, you’re less likely to have your claims to that identity challenged on Twitter or at the Communion rail. The problem is that Kaine – and the Democratic Party – seem to believe that his religion is not only an essential part of his identity but also a political asset.”[33]

Kaine cannot take refuge from criticism of his declaration about his faith on grounds that he is not obligated to apply positions of his faith in these matters of public policy.  The Founders of America, overwhelmingly Protestant, supported the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God,” which affirm the right to life, the nature of marriage, and the complementarity of the sexes.  The office of Vice President can have major impacts on public policy by breaking tie votes including approval of Supreme Court nominees, especially if the Rules of the Senate are changed to preclude filibusters as has been seriously promoted by Democratic Senator Harry Reid (NV).

All Americans have a stake in whether a candidate for the second-highest office in the land truly stands in harmony with the core principles he claims motivate his public service.

(parish names are for identification purposes only)


Dan Arico
Holy Transfiguration Greek Melkite Rite, McLean

Richard Black
Our Lady of Hope, Sterling

Frank Cannon
St. Agnes Parish, Arlington

Rita Cooley
Holy Spirit Parish, Gainesville

Marjorie J. Dannenfelser
St. Agnes Parish, Arlington

Chuck Donovan
All Saints Parish, Manassas

Mary Ann Kreitzer
St. John Bosco, Woodstock

Connie Mackey
St. Stephen Parish, Middleburg

Cathy Marshall
All Saints Parish, Manassas

Robert G. Marshall
All Saints Parish, Manassas

Tom McClusky
St. Joseph’s Parish, Alexandria

Outside Virginia

Joe Arico
St. Brendan’s Parish, Bellingham, MA

Tom Ashcraft
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Charlotte, NC

[1]  Mary Ann Barton, “Is Democrat Tim Kaine the ‘Can-Do’ Candidate for U.S. Senate?”

Kingstown Patch, September 6, 2011 3:23 pm ET,

[2]   Time Magazine, July 27, 2016

[3]  Meet the Press, Tim Kaine Chuck Todd Interview, June 26, 2016 at

[4]   Kelly McEvers, Host, Tim Kaine’s Pastor Describes the Veep Pick’s Life as a Devout Catholic

Heard on All Things Considered, National Public Radio, July 22, 2016, 9:41 PM ET,

[5]  Steve Hendrix, “Tim Kaine’s Moral Convictions and Political Ambitions,” The Washington Post, October 18, 2012,

[6]   Defend the Hyde Amendment, Editorial, America: The National Catholic Review, August, 15-22, 2016,

[7]   NBC 29, “Catholics Protect Tim Kaine Outside His Church,” August 28, 2016,

[8]  Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph, 2442.

[9]   Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States, (40), p. 20.

[10]  Meet the Press, Tim Kaine Chuck Todd Interview, June 26, 2016 at

[11]  Jake Tapper, CNN, State of the Union, July 24, 2016, Interview with Robbie Mook, Campaign Manager for Hillary Clinton.

[12]  Tom Lobianco, “Tim Kaine Under Scrutiny for Abortion Comment,” CNN Politics, July 29, 2016,

[13]  DOCTRINAL NOTE on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Card. RATZINGER Prefect, Tarcisio BERTONE, S.D.B. Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli Secretary, Section 4, para 2.

[14]  DOCTRINAL NOTE on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Card. RATZINGER Prefect, Tarcisio BERTONE, S.D.B. Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli Secretary, Section 6, para 3.

[15]  Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States, (para. 22), p. 16.

[16]   Kaine Statement on Ruling on Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

[17]   BRIEF OF 172 MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND 40 U.S. SENATORS AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF RESPONDENT EDITH SCHLAIN WINDSOR, URGING AFFIRMANCE ON THE MERITS, United States, Petitioner, v. Edith Schlain Windsor and Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives, Respondents. Heather C. Sawyer House Committee on the Judiciary Minority Counsel to Ranking Members John Conyers, Jr. and Jerrold Nadler B-336 Rayburn Bldg. Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-6906, Miriam R. Nemetz, Counsel of Record Richard B. Katskee, Kathleen Connery Dawe, Michael B. Kimberly Mayer Brown LLP 1999 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20006 (202) 263-3000 Counsel for Amici Curiae.

[18]  BRIEF OF 167 MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND 44 U.S. SENATORS AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF PETITIONERS, JAMES OBERGEFELL, et al., Petitioners, V. RICHARD HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, et al., Respondents, HEATHER C. SAWYER House Committee on the Judiciary, Minority Counsel to Ranking Members John Conyers, Jr. and Jerrold Nadler, B-336 Rayburn Bldg., Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-6906, JOSEPH F. TRINGALI, Counsel of Record, JOSHUA C. POLSTER, ELISA Y. LEE, AIDAN T. GRANO, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, 425 Lexington Avenue New York, NY 10017 (212) 455-2000,

[19]   Anita Kumar, “Virginia board rejects proposal that would have allowed gay adoptions,” The Washington Post,

[20]   Ibid.

[21]   Anita Kumar, “Kaine: Gay couples should be allowed to adopt,” The Washington Post, May 18, 2011,

[22]  Kaine Statement on Supreme Court Extending Marriage Rights Nationwide, June 26, 2015,

[23]  Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers about Marriage and Same-sex Unions, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,

[24]  Pope Francis, to Participants in the International Colloquium on the Complementarity Between Man and Woman Sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 17 November 2014, http://w2.Vatican.Va/Content/Francesco/En/Speeches/2014/ November/Documents/Papa-Francesco_20141117_Congregazione-Dottrina-Fede.html

[25]  Kaine Statement on Hobby Lobby Decision, June 30, 2014,

[26]  Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores, No. 13–354, 723 F. 3d 1114, affirmed, case syllabus,

[27]  Kaine Statement on Filibuster, July 16, 2014,

[28]    S. 2578, 113th Congress, Second Session, Section 4, (a)(b) “Subsection (a) shall apply notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, including Public Law 103–141.”

[29]  Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae, On the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious,  Pope Paul VI, December 7, 1965,

[30]  Warner, Kaine Urge Dept. of Education to Clarify Legal Protections for LGBT Students Across the Country, Tuesday, May 3, 2016,

[31]   Pope Francis, General Audience, August 3, 2016,

[32]  Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States, (42), p. 21.

[33]  Michael McGough, July 28, 2016, LA Times, Op-ed, “Tim Kaine’s candidacy revives a Catholic civil war on abortion,”