Catholic politicians who talk of their faith influencing them but then advocate pro-choice public policy are "misleading our people," says a prominent Roman Catholic archbishop.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas was recently selected to head the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee of Pro-Life Activities.
In an interview with The Catholic World Report that was published Monday, Archbishop Naumann spoke about the problems of when "we have Catholic politicians who flaunt their Catholicity, but take positions that our inconsistent with our Catholic teaching."
Naumann cited as specific examples former Health and Human Services Department head Kathleen Sebelius and former vice presidential hopeful Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.
"[Sebelius] would talk about how Catholic she was, but act totally contrary to Church teaching. It creates a problem for us as bishops when Catholic politicians do that. They teach our people that it is okay to be Catholic and support legalized abortion," said Naumann.
"Tim Kaine, a US Senator and former vice presidential candidate, is another example of a politician who flaunted his Catholic background but spewed a lot of pro-choice rhetoric. When they do this they're taking on a teaching role and misleading our people."
Naumann also told the CWR that he felt there were many challenges in advancing the pro-life agenda at the federal government level, especially due to the courts.
"But we've seen that in a majority of states legislators have pushed as far as they could to extend protections to unborn life that the federal courts will permit," stated Naumann.
"... It was really the U.S. Supreme Court that created the problem, usurping the role of the states to create public policy in these areas. I think that we have some hope that we can change the composition of the Supreme Court."
A former governor of Virginia, Kaine is known to be a devout Catholic who at one served as a missionary in Latin America.
During the 2016 campaign, in which he was the vice presidential running mate for Hillary Clinton, Kaine often talked about how his faith influenced his views on issues like race and poverty.
Critics, however, noted that Kaine openly defied Church teaching on issues like abortion and homosexuality.
Vox reported last year that Kaine had an "evolving view" on abortion, with a mixed record on the issue when he entered the Senate in 2012, but then developed a "perfect pro-choice voting record."
When Clinton chose Kaine to be her running mate, Kaine agreed to abandon his opposition to government funding for abortions. Kaine has additionally voted against efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and has defended the abortion provider as a "primary health provider."
National Right to Life President Carol Tobias stated in July 2016 that she believed Kaine was "hiding behind his Catholic background."
"Like Hillary Clinton, Sen. Tim Kaine supports the current policy of abortion on demand," stated Tobias.
"Like Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kaine is so extreme on abortion he opposes even the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, legislation to protect unborn children from abortion after 20 weeks, when they are capable of feeling excruciating pain during dismemberment or other late abortion methods."