Church teaching does not dictate which party or candidate a Catholic should choose. It does, however, offer guidelines for the faithful to use in making their decision.
In their document, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," the U.S. bishops outline an understanding of political responsibility based upon developing a "well-formed conscience."
Catholic teaching holds that the "right to life" is paramount. St. John Paul II described it as "the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights." The bishops' document stresses that the direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life "is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed."
In the document, the bishops also stated their opposition to "contraception and abortion mandates in public programs and health plans, which endanger rights of conscience and can interfere with parents' right to guide the moral formation of their children."
In his statement, Bishop DiLorenzo added that elected officials in Virginia are made aware of the Church's stance on various issues because he and Bishop Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington advocate for Catholic policies before the Virginia General Assembly, U.S. Congress, and the Virginia Catholic Conference, a public policy advocacy organization.
"We continue to maintain an open communication with public officials who make on-going decisions impacting critical, moral and social issues. This is a responsibility I take seriously, along with my brother bishops, to reach out to public leaders to explain Catholic principles and encourage them to protect human life and dignity in all decisions they make," Bishop DiLorenzo said in the statement.
"We always pray for our Catholic leaders that they make the right choice, act in the best judgment and in good conscience, knowing the values and teachings of the Catholic Church."
Bishop Tobin of Providence also weighed in on Saturday on Tim Kaine's stance on various issues in a Facebook post titled "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," Bishop Tobin wrote.
"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."
In past election years, several bishops have stressed that Catholic politicians who support abortion should not receive Communion.
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While Bishop DiLorenzo's statement did not address Kaine specifically, he said "(i)t is the duty of all Catholics, no matter their profession, to decide through an upright and informed conscience as to their worthiness to receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist."