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NEW YORK, September 13, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Jesuit Father Matt Malone takes issue with Catholics who protested recently at Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s home parish in Virginia, implying in his September 12 column for America Magazine that their actions were neither Catholic nor pro-life.

Catholics are rightfully worried that not only is Kaine getting a pass for misrepresenting Catholic teaching but he’s being propped up as a good Catholic to serve the Clinton campaign.

Kaine’s latest divergence from Church teaching came last weekend when he suggested to a leading homosexual lobbying group at its fundraising dinner that the Catholic Church would evolve on the issue of homosexual “marriage” just as he did, and that his faith justifies his support for same-sex “marriage.”

Father Malone’s column poses and presumably answers the question of “Who gets to say who the ‘real Catholics’ are?”

But while barely stopping short of fawning over Kaine and seeming to justify some worrisome suppositions about Catholic identity, Father Malone’s piece begs other questions as well, including just what message he seeks to convey.

Criticizing the August 28 protest at Kaine’s parish by a dozen or so Catholics, the America Magazine editor-in-chief took column space to write, “We should note for the record that a much larger crowd enthusiastically greeted “Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, the Sunday after Clinton picked him as her running mate.”

Kaine had gotten a standing ovation at his parish just after Hillary Clinton made the announcement.

Why should we note that? Does that illustrate Kaine’s credibility as a Catholic?

Kaine’s pastor also praised him on NPR, insisting Kaine opposed capital punishment despite overseeing several executions as Virginia governor. Other media and Catholics as well have offered dubiously glowing reports of Kaine’s Catholicity, at times playing up his involvement in the 1980s with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

The Virginia senator has said he has “a traditional Catholic personal position” but also is a “strong supporter of Roe v. Wade.” In addition to supporting abortion in public office, he has expressed support for homosexual “marriage,” same-sex adoption and the ordination of women.  

Kaine, who has a 100 percent voting record from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, frequently brings up his Jesuit education and has invoked the Catholic faith or Pope Francis to justify his support for issues such as opposing the fetal pain abortion ban and supporting Obamacare. He has also openly campaigned for the demographic he termed “Pope Francis Catholics” to vote for Hillary Clinton.

And while Father Malone is up front in his column about Kaine’s abortion record and his own opposition to it, acknowledging where the Church stands on abortion and homosexual “marriage,” and the fact that not all moral issues carry the same weight, he uses these statements in apparent firm support of Catholic teaching to somehow qualify some very unsound ones.

He proposed that “it does not necessarily follow from the fact that something is immoral that it should be illegal,” and that public policy questions, even in the case of abortion, belong in the “realm of prudential judgment.” 

Father Malone said Catholics could disagree “in good conscience,” if not on those moral issues, then for sure on their related public policy.

What possible Catholic argument could there be for something so utterly immoral and abhorrent as abortion to be legal? Given that not all issues have the same precedence as the sanctity of human life, how can a Catholic conceivably agree in good conscience that abortion should be legal?

Shouldn’t Catholics agree with the Lord and his Church on the non-negotiable issue of abortion?

Does our God-given intellect and free will mean that as Catholics, instead of advocating for what’s right in the public square, that we should advocate for the right to disagree with it?

Father Malone implied that those protesting Kaine being held up as a model Catholic were using his controverting of Church teaching, played down in the column as simply his prudential public policy positions, “as the only basis for determining whether they have a right to sit next to us in church on Sunday morning.”

Have there been instances where someone has said Tim Kaine doesn’t have the right to attend church? I’ve not yet seen them, but in any event, this was not at all the message of the group of Catholics who protested outside his parish. Still, Father Malone continued on.

“I can’t imagine saying to the person sitting next to me at Mass, the one who disagrees with me on what the public policy on abortion should be, that he or she is somehow less Catholic than I am by virtue of that simple fact,” Father Malone wrote. “I certainly wouldn’t tell them to leave, nor would I protest their arrival at the front door of the church.”

“Yet this is precisely what happened recently to Tim Kaine,” he said. “The Democratic vice presidential nominee was met by a small group of protestors at the parish church in Richmond, Va., where he has attended Mass for 30 years.”

According to the primary news report of the protest, it was peaceful and Kaine was not at Mass the day of the protest.

Father Malone was critical of a protest organizer who used the term evil to describe Kaine in disputing Kaine’s portrayal as a good Catholic to the news outlet, saying the statement was uncharitable and also writing that “jeering your fellow Catholics as they enter the church on Sunday is neither Catholic nor particularly pro-life.”

That organizer also told LifeSiteNews the protest did not disrupt Mass, and in fact the protestors had waited until the 9 a.m. Mass had begun and latecomers had arrived before setting up outside St. Elizabeth Church.

Tim Kaine can and should go to Mass.

The real issues are whether he’s receiving Communion while advocating for public policy that violates Church teaching, which would put his soul in mortal danger, and the fact that Kaine, in the course of running for office, is being lauded as a great Catholic while openly supporting abortion and other seriously immoral issues, potentially putting other souls at grave risk as well.

We can expect the Clinton campaign to paint him as a good Catholic because they have an election to win. Church-associated voices, however, should be speaking about Kaine’s error and encouraging him to repent, as they should with any member of their flock.

“Our fundamental identity and unity as Catholic Christians does not reside in our allegiance to a set of ideas, much less to some political manifesto,” Father Malone wrote. “Our unity resides in the person of Jesus Christ.”

Of course it does, but Jesus Christ the Lord, who came as a man for the purpose of redeeming us — assuming we take him up on it and repent — represents a pretty specific set of ideas. If we’re serious about salvation, we’d do well to observe them whether in an election year or not.

For my money in this particular election year rife with complaints of a lack of civility, with the Church afflicted by such rampant confusion, as much or more that could be said about a lack of charity also goes for the serious matter of a lack of clarity.