Washington D.C., Oct 6, 2016 / 15:19 pm
Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine was gravely wrong to say he personally opposed abortion while taking a pro-choice stance in public office, a moral theologian says.
Kaine, a Catholic, took a “gravely immoral position” and one “that is incorrect,” Fr. Thomas Petri, dean of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., told CNA of Kaine’s argument that he tries to “follow the teachings of my church in my own personal life” but will not “mandate that [faith] for everybody else” through opposing abortion in public office.
“This is a human issue, not a religious issue,” Fr. Petri said of abortion. He pointed to Pope St. John Paul’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” which insisted that right to life is the “primary right” and “without life, there are no other rights.”
One must oppose abortion not just on religious grounds, but as the primary human rights issue, Fr. Petri said.
At Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate, the candidates were asked to reveal “a time when you struggled to balance your faith and a public policy position” from their time in public office.
Kaine, a baptized Catholic who attends St. Elizabeth parish in the Diocese of Richmond, Va., answered that when he was governor of Virginia, he was religiously opposed to the death penalty, but allowed executions because the law of the state demanded it in certain “heinous” cases.
“I think it is really, really important that those of us who have deep faith lives don’t feel like we can just substitute our views for everybody else in society regardless of their views,” he said at the debate.
Kaine was then pressed by his opponent Mike Pence, the Republican governor of Indiana, about his support for legal abortion, and Kaine repeated the same defense – a politician’s religious beliefs shouldn’t be imposed on others through governance and legislation.