Faith

Mike Pence Bests Tim Kaine on the Sanctity of Human Life

Being pro-death penalty and pro-life don't cancel each other out

Whichever ticket wins the White House on Nov. 8, America will have a vice president with a Catholic background. But there are vast differences between the two men.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is an evangelical and grew up a Catholic. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is a Catholic. Sure enough, the issue of faith came up in the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia, Tuesday night. Kaine previously has come under fire for his governmental pro-choice stance — despite his own claim that he personally believes abortion is wrong.

“Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.”

When asked about his faith, Kaine brought up his anti-death penalty stance in conjunction with his moral beliefs. Yet from the moment he was named the veep candidate for Hillary Clinton’s ticket, Kaine has defended her most radical stance on abortion. This includes support for partial-birth abortion, which kills a baby moments before birth.

“Having a struggle in my faith life was that the Catholic Church is against the death penalty and so am I,” Kaine explained. “But I was the governor of the state, and the state says there was a death penalty. So I had to grapple with that when I was running for governor and I was attacked pretty strongly because of my position. But I looked the voters of Virginia in the eye, and said, ‘I am not going to change my religious practice to get one vote, but I will uphold the law.'”

But changing his religious practice to get one vote is exactly what he is doing now — and that one vote is Hillary Clinton’s will.

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Tim Kaine asserted that Mike Pence is politically inconsistent on the life issue because he’s pro-death penalty, despite Pence’s strong and faithful record of defending the life of the innocent unborn.

Pence hammered Clinton and Kaine on supporting partial-birth abortion before asserting, “For me, my faith informs my life. For me, it all begins with cherishing the dignity, the worth, the value of all human life.”

Pence’s personal belief system is essential to the integrity of his identity as a public servant and the platform he is defending.

And when it comes to the defense of human life, a pro-choice stance and a pro-death penalty stance do not cancel each other out — one is far and away morally worse, according to the Catholic Church.

The main difference: Abortion is an intrinsic evil and targets an innocent human life. Capitol punishment is what Catholics refer to as a “prudential judgment,” meaning the situation must be critically evaluated through a moral lens. According to the catechism of the Catholic Church, prudence helps people “apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid.”

The catechism is unapologetically firm on abortion, citing the most severe reaction the Catholic Church can have on any situation — excommunication, which completely cuts off a person from the communion of the church.

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The catechism states: “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.” A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication “latae sententiae” — “by the very commission of the offense, and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.”

The church’s doctrine continues on to affirm such a reaction is not a lack of mercy: “The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.”

Related: Tim Kaine’s Failing Catholic Scorecard

The catechism of the Catholic Church also clearly spells out the stance on the death penalty:

“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. 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 continues: “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm — without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself — the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

Clearly, there is a moral difference. According to the Catholic Church on abortion and death penalty, they are not equivalent.

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