The Spectacle Blog

Kaine’s Religious Shield

By on 10.11.05 | 5:28PM

Tim Kaine is citing his religion in defense of his opposition to the death penalty. His new ad (last one here) has him saying, "As a Christian missionary in Honduras, I learned that life is sacred. And that's why I oppose the death penalty. I'll carry out a death sentence, because that's the law, but I won't change my religious beliefs."

A few points:

-No one's questioning his religious belief. They're questioning his activism against the death penalty. Likening it to the gulags shows a callousness for the most grave injustices.

-He only learned about the sacredness of life in his 20s? He was raised Catholic, so why didn't that sink in before then?

-The Catholic Church doesn't even teach outright opposition to the death penalty -- it's not grouped among inherent evils like abortion, which Tim Kaine has never lifted a finger against like his anti-death penalty work. In fact, Church teaching allows that the death penalty may be a just punishment. Avery Cardinal Dulles explains it particularly well in this 2001 article in First Things:

The Catholic magisterium does not, and never has, advocated unqualified abolition of the death penalty. I know of no official statement from popes or bishops, whether in the past or present, that denies the right of the State to execute offenders at least in certain extreme cases.
To which Catholic teaching does Tim Kaine subscribe?
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