“On fundamental issues of morality, we should let women make their own decisions,” said Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine, referring to abortion and pandering to the presumed single-mindedness of his female audience.

On the face of it, this is an absurd statement. Child pornography is a moral issue. So is child abuse. In neither instance would we think of leaving the “decision” to a woman, let alone to a man.

For Democrats, however, abortion is very nearly a sacrament. The arguments on its behalf transcend all logic and all known morality. With his answer, Kaine showed at which altar he truly worships.

Kaine’s statement came at the very end of Tuesday night’s vice-presidential debate when the hapless moderator, Elaine Quijano, asked the candidates how they balance personal faith with public policy.

Kaine went first. He talked proudly about his Irish Catholic background and his Jesuit education. “I try to practice my religion in a very devout way and follow the teachings of my church in my own personal life,” he insisted.

His “hardest struggle,” said Kaine, was with the death penalty. As a Catholic he opposed it, but “state law” in Virginia allowed the death penalty for heinous crimes. Kaine promised he would uphold the law if elected governor and claimed to have done just that.

In his turn, Republican Mike Pence did what no Republican candidate in recent memory has done. He raised the issue of abortion without being prompted.

“What I can’t understand is with Hillary Clinton and now Senator Kaine at her side is to support a practice like partial-birth abortion,” said Pence. “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.”

A self-described “evangelical Catholic,” Pence has a much firmer grip on Catholic theology than Kaine. From the perspective of the Catholic Church, abortion carries far more weight than any other social issue.

The Catholic Church allows for the possibility of a just war and even capital punishment under certain circumstances, but there is no such thing as a “just” abortion.

Anyone who has doubts about the Church’s official position need only read the Pope John Paul II’s 1999 revisiting of Pope Paul VI’s historic encyclical, “Humanae Vitae.” The pope did not mince words.

Depriving an innocent human being of life, and life undeniably begins at conception, is “always morally evil.” He added, “This tradition is unchanged and unchangeable.”

There can be no yielding, John Paul II continued, to “convenient compromises” or the “temptation of self-deception.” How could there be? “We are dealing,” said he bluntly, “with murder.”

On a personal note, I also grew up in an Irish Catholic household and attended a Jesuit high school. As serious Catholics understand, the Jesuit order has to a large degree abandoned Catholicism for modernism, if not socialism.

Dismayed by the trend, I stopped donating to my high school about 20 years ago. That Kaine would brag about his Jesuit education suggests that he has not talked to a real Catholic in a long time.

When Francis, a Jesuit, ascended to the papacy, Catholics held their breath and are still holding it. For all his virtues, the pope has the tendency to put a liberal spin on issues that are outside of the Church’s purview.

In February, for instance, Francis reportedly said of Donald Trump that a person who “only thinks about building walls … and not building bridges is not Christian.” The media, of course, cheered.

The media are less thrilled with Francis’ position on abortion. Lamented the New York Times, “The Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion has not changed under Pope Francis, who believes that unborn fetuses are sacred and must be protected.”

Earlier this week, Francis was pressed to make an endorsement in the presidential race. More judicious than usual, the pope said to America’s Catholics, “Study the issues, pray, and then vote your conscience.”

Not even a liberal Jesuit like Pope Francis is willing to give Kaine cover on the abortion issue. For all his anguishing about the death penalty, Kaine has embraced “choice” with an enthusiasm that borders on zeal.

The exchange between Kaine and Pence on abortion will make it harder for Catholic leaders, many of whom lean left, to voice public support for the Clinton-Kaine ticket. If Kaine actually did “follow the teachings of my church,” he could not even vote for himself.

Trump cannot make this point for us. Catholics have to convince their believe-as-you-please brethren, including their priests, of one salient fact: A vote for Tim and the Alinskyite Hillary is a vote for that “first radical,” the demonic fellow Alinsky so openly admired.

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