Bishop of Richmond Won’t Say If Sen. Kaine Should Receive Communion, Even After ‘Appalling’ Pro-Infanticide Vote

James Lankford: Defending Religious Freedom Means Living Your Faith, by Fred Lucas
March 1, 2019
Getting Ready for Lent: How Are We to Make Sacrifices? by Donal Anthony Foley
March 1, 2019

Bishop Barry C. Knestout, head of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Va. (YouTube)

( — Although the Catholic bishop of Richmond, Va., the Most Rev. Barry C. Knestout, denounced Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-Va.) vote against providing medical help to infants that survive abortions as “appalling and beyond comprehension,” he would not say whether Kaine, a pro-abortion Catholic, should present himself for Communion at Mass in the Diocese of Richmond.

Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have taught that abortion is a “crime which no human law can claim to legitimize,” and it is “never licit to obey” such a law, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it.” Support for abortion, in addition to the act itself, is viewed as a grievous (mortal) sin by the Catholic Church.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)  (Getty Images)

On Monday, Feb. 25, Senator Kaine, who attends St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Richmond, voted with 43 other Democrats in the U.S. Senate against ending debate on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which prevented it from going any further. That legislation, had it gone on to become law, would have required medical personnel to assist any infant that survives an abortion and to have the child admitted to a hospital.

Simply, the child would be treated just like any other newborn child. Kaine’s Virginia colleague, Sen. Mark Warner (D) also voted against the bill.

That same day, Feb. 25, Bishop Knestout and the bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, Va., the Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, issued a joint statement on the legislation. In part, they said, “That this bill did not pass unanimously — let alone even pass at all — is appalling and beyond comprehension. We are dismayed and outraged that Virginia’s US Senators Warner and Kaine voted against this critical lifesaving legislation.” (Emphasis added.)

Given Kaine’s support for abortion (and for allowing infants that survive abortion to die on a table), asked Bishop Knestout, “Given Sen. Kaine’s long-held and very public support for abortion, will you instruct him not to present himself for Holy Communion in your diocese? Yes or no?”

In response, the communications director for the diocese, Deborah Cox, replied by email, “Bishop Knestout is very explicit on his stance about this particular legislation and the failure of the U.S. Senate to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 311). His joint statement with Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge clearly articulates his thoughts and position on the matter.”

In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and vice
presidential candidate Tim Kaine.  (Getty Images)

She continued, “Bishop Knestout recognizes there is interest in how he will proceed going forward with Catholic politicians regarding legislation or any policy matters that are in direct conflict with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“He welcomes the opportunity to meet with public officials about spiritual and public policy matters. However, as shepherd and pastor of the diocese, it is his obligation to address such matters directly and personally with an individual. In order to ensure the utmost pastoral care for the individual, he does not publicly discuss his pastoral conversations with parishioners of his diocese.”

In other words, Bishop Knestout may have already spoken privately with Sen. Kaine about the issue or he may not have — we do not know.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)  (Getty Images)

In a related case involving the pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), his bishop, the Most Rev. Thomas J. Paprocki, issued a statement in 2018 that Durbin must “not be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin” — his vote against a bill that would have prohibited abortion after 20 weeks (5 months).

“Because his voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,’ the determination continues that Sen. Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin,” said Paprocki. “This provision is intended not to punish, but to bring about a change of heart. Sen. Durbin was once pro-life. I sincerely pray that he will repent and return to being pro-life.”

In 2004, then-Archbishop Raymond Burke said he would not give Communion to then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) because of his support for abortion, and in 2007 Burke said the same about pro-abortion Rudy Giuliani. In 2008, the bishop of Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Penn., said Biden should not present himself for Communion because of his support for abortion.