"If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person," it adds, saying that because of advances in modern security, "the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are very rare, if not practically nonexistent'."
Kaine presided over the execution of 11 people as governor of Virginia. "I had to grapple with that," he explained, saying that as governor he had to operate by the laws of the state.
"It was very, very difficult to allow executions to go forward, but in circumstance here I didn't feel like there was a case for clemency, I told Virginia voters I would uphold the law, and I did," he said.
Pence, meanwhile, who was raised Catholic, answered that "my Christian faith became real for me when I made a personal decision for Christ when I was a Freshman in college. And I've tried to live that out, however imperfectly, every day of my life ever since."
For his part, Pence left out his own support of the death penalty, as well as his public conflict last year with Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis when Catholic Charities was set to resettle a Syrian refugee family that had been waiting in line for two years. Gov. Pence had tried to halt resettlement of Syrian refugees in his state until the federal government gave sufficient confirmation that the resettlement program was secure.
Archbishop Tobin went ahead and resettled the family against Pence's wishes. Pence met with the archbishop and afterwards said he "respectfully disagreed" with the resettlement.
Pence referred to himself as an "Evangelical-Catholic" in a 1994 interview, began attending an Evangelical megachurch with his family, and now says he is a "Christian." Pence emphasized that his faith hinges upon upholding the "sanctity of life."
"It all for me begins with cherishing the dignity, the worth, the value of every human life," Pence said on the debate stage. "For me the sanctity of life proceeds out of the belief that ancient principle that where God says before you were formed in the womb I knew you," he stated.
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.
Pence also noted Hillary Clinton's support of partial-birth abortion, and defended the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old provision with bipartisan support that prohibits the taxpayer funding of elective abortion. The Democratic Party platform and Hillary Clinton have called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, but Kaine after several different answers said he supported it, back in July.
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Kaine reiterated his support for a woman's right to "consult their own conscience" on abortion.
Pence countered that "we can create a culture of life," invoking Mother Teresa's famous address to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994 where she called abortion "the greatest destroyer of peace today…because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child."
"As Mother Teresa said at that famous National Prayer Breakfast, let's welcome the children into our world. There are so many families around the country who can't have children," Pence said.
"Because a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable, the aged, the infirm, the disabled, and the unborn."
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.