Government Watch / Opinion / Politics

Virginia Bishops Take a Good First Step Against McAuliffe’s Anti-Catholic Agenda

VirginiaWritten by: David P. Deavel

The Virginia Catholic Bishops have taken a good first step in opposing the agenda of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. As I wrote here at AMAC two weeks ago, the Catholic former DNC Chair and Virginia governor is running for governor again. He is not running away from his radical abortion support, his opposition to religious liberty, his support for what appear to be religious tests for public office that would exclude believing Catholics, nor his connections to current Virginia governor Ralph Northam, whose radicalism on abortion may surpass his own. Though many laity had been rumbling about the self-described “strong Catholic” and more than a few priests had begun to speak out from the pulpit about what a possible second term for McAuliffe portends for Catholic work and witness in the Commonwealth of Virginia, there had been no word from the bishops. Until now.

Jacob Adams of The Washington Free Beacon reported on July 28 that the Virginia Catholic Conference, which represents the two Catholic bishops of Virginia on public policy matters, has spoken out against McAuliffe’s plan “to repeal Virginia’s conscience clause, which allows religious charities to place children into foster homes and for adoption to families that share the organization’s moral convictions.”  The Catholic Conference contends that the 2004 law not only protected religious liberty but allowed the expansion of adoption in the state. As executive director Jeff Caruso told the Free Beacon, “Virginia’s current law ensures that no child-placing agencies, including faith-based agencies, are forced to participate in child placements that violate their beliefs and moral convictions.” He added that “the law does not prevent anyone who wants to adopt a child or provide a foster home from doing so” and its repeal would only “harm families who want to work with agencies that share their beliefs.”

It’s a good first step for the bishops, but McAuliffe has not backed down from his false claims. On his “Inclusivity” button at his campaign website he tells supporters that his repeal of the conscience clause will “open up foster care and adoption to LGBTQ+ people”—as if there were no agencies that did such things—and he brags about his own officiating at a same-sex marriage and his making “Pride Month” an official holiday and creating an LGBT+ tourism committee for the state. The bishops might want to ask about the “anti-bullying” law he promises to pass as well as the “cultural competency” requirements he will enact for health workers. They sound like attempts to make sure no one hold any different moral views on sexuality or gender than those approved by the state.

His website’s “Protecting Women’s Rights and Ensuring Gender Equality” button tells us his first priority here is “passing an amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that permanently enshrines and codifies the protections of Roe v Wade in Virginia law.” Not only does he want abortion on demand permanently legal, but he wants to make sure that constituents know that to oppose abortion is “anti-women” and that taxpayers ought to pay for it: “Terry vetoed all anti-women legislation passed by the General Assembly—including multiple bills that would have defunded Planned Parenthood in Virginia.” And as of July 23, current Governor Ralph Northam, he who thought babies born alive might simply be left to die and signed legislation that eliminated informed consent rules for abortions, stopped demanding health and safety precautions at abortion clinics, and allowed non-physicians to do first-trimester abortions, was still on the stump speaking on McAuliffe’s behalf.

McAuliffe’s problems are again the problems of the Democratic Party these days, an irony given the long association of the Catholic Church in the United States with the party since the days of the first Catholic presidential candidate Al Smith. The party is now seemingly committed to the idea that policies that directly contradict Catholic teaching on life and the nature of marriage must be accepted by the Church—even policies that remove any ability for Catholic charities and adoption agencies to act on the basis of Catholic Christian teaching. Democrats believe any attempt by faithful Catholic bishops to exercise discipline over politicians who step over the line must be stopped.

At the end of June, a poorly written letter signed by sixty Catholic House Democrats was released calling on the U. S. Catholic Conference of Bishops to not allow the “weaponization of the Eucharist to Catholic Democrats.” Poor grammar aside, what they meant was that no discipline over the reception of the central Catholic sacrament should take place even though the signees support legalized abortion. Oddly enough this was justified on the basis of “the separation of church and state,” which is about the freedom of the Church to operate by her own rules—not about her need to accept any and all behavior on the part of Catholic officeholders just because they are Americans.

The Virginia bishops have made a good start but they ought to say more or they will see their ability to minister diminished in serious ways. On the political side of the question, will Republicans be able to see what these policies will do not only to Catholic but also Evangelical and other traditionally religious groups’ ministries? Will they see that religious believers will only turn to them if they are clearly in opposition to these policies erasing conscience protection?

In Georgia, it was an outside group, the Catholic Coalition Against Religious Tests, that created an ad showing how Jon Ossoff was joined at the hip with other Senate Democrats, whose line of questioning of Catholic judicial candidates was anti-Catholic enough to earn rebukes by the liberal ADL as well as several university presidents, and the twenty-eight state attorneys general who were persecuting the Little Sisters of the Poor. While the ad was not embraced by the GOP’s Washington, D.C., consultants—who showed in Georgia that they do not understand the power of “the Catholic issue” when it comes to opposing the Democrats—it did affect other outside political groups such as Heritage Action, which mounted a campaign that almost derailed Xavier Becerra’s nomination as Health and Human Services Secretary because their ads actually talked about Becerra’s enthusiastic suing of nuns for following their consciences.

Perhaps another outside group will have the courage and the skills to challenge McAuliffe who claims to be a “strong Catholic” but whose own positions might better be described as anti-Catholic. They might be able to appeal to Latino Catholics since, as 2020 data showed with an eight percent switch from Democrat to Republican voters, Latinos broadly are a politically persuadable group. Those Latinos who are solid Catholics or Evangelicals will likely resonate with messages showing how radical McAuliffe and, sadly, most Democrats are these days on abortion, sex-and-gender, and religious liberty.

There are a number of steps that will need to be taken to protect religious liberty and to start eliminating taxpayer funding of abortion and make progress on both limiting it and making sure where it is practiced informed consent and safety measures are at least put in place. But it is a good thing that the Virginia bishops have made the first one. If they keep taking steps, they will embolden their many brother bishops who also have fights for conscience and life on their hands.

David P. Deavel is editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, co-director of the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy, and a visiting professor at the University of St. Thomas (MN). He is the co-host of the Deep Down Things podcast.

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27 days ago

If the Catholic Church was serious about their theology, and their pro-life stand. Pelosi would have been excommunicated years ago! They embrace her fully, no matter how adverse she is to all they claim to believe! I think it is about power with them….they only want the fame of their members, no matter how godless that fame is.

1 month ago

God is watching

Gregory Brockway
1 month ago

Trumpenfuher prefers his followers to remain as ignorant as they’ve always been!

1 month ago

The ignorance lies with people who support the Democratic party-defund the police, abortion on demand, censoring views people disagree with, opposition to voter ID and immigration enforcement, religious bigotry, no fracking and more. I am not Catholic but support many of their positions on moral questions. Just because some priests are morons does not negate the legitimacy of their positions. You sound like an anti-religious bigot. Take your bigotry to the Huffington Post; it does not belong here.

Gregory Brockway
1 month ago

The Catholic church continues to protect pedophile priest worldwide but they think they have the “moral authority” to tell Dem politicians what public policies hey may support and still be a Catholic. Is it any wonder why organized religion in America is on the long fall to irrelevancy?

Ed J
1 month ago

Unless and until the Bishops collectively get some balls and at least officially deny these Jack Catholics the sacraments, the problem is only going to get worse. In fact, publicized excommunication of these wrong thinking Catholic politicians would be the most effective countermeasure. Any true Catholic would be quite hesitant to vote for an excommunicated Catholic.
And, gee! If non-Catholic voters see that the Catholic Church doesn’t want these people as members, it might lead them to look closer at these politicians before they vote these bad actors into office.

1 month ago

He’s another cino, catholic in name only like a rino!

1 month ago
Reply to  CPOBill

Right you are & they give true Catholics a bad name & have caused so much of the hatred of Catholics & misconceptions of the Catholic religion. Anyone who thinks Biden, Pelosi or any of the slimeballs in congress are living according to Catholic teachings is very ill informed. And having a very progressive left leaning pope has made things far worse. Cino’s & rino’s need to be gone ASAP.

J. Farley
1 month ago

Terry McAuliffe is one of the worst slime-balls when it comes to attacking freedoms, I am glad that I don’t live in the same State he does, he is like a Cancer, he, kills the very thing he is living off of.

James Kelly
1 month ago

Terry McAuliffe, a perfect case for retro abortion.

1 month ago

This is an outstanding article! Not only well written but very well reported. Thanks AMAC and thanks David P. Deavel!

1 month ago

I find the Catholic Church to be feckless when it comes to standing up for its own precepts. Feckless during WWII, feckless in the face of dictators such as Castro and Chavez, feckless in standing up to politicians who would kill babies but spout off about how very Catholic they are. The Catholic Church needs to take a good long look at itself and its hierarchy and make some soul searching decisions about what it really stands for— God or political expediency. So far, political expediency is winning. Devout Catholics work hard to follow the teachings of the church just to have the church throw them to the dogs. Shame.

Nick Patriot
1 month ago
Reply to  LauraC

Well said, Laura. I’m a Catholic and I agree with you! Biden, Pelosi and crew should be excommunicated from the church. How these devils even set foot in the Catholic church is criminal. The first thing the Bishops did was congratulate partial birth killer Biden. Hypocrites! Our Parish priest let us know before the election that Biden was his choice and should be ours! Biden, Pelosi and kin are devils!

1 month ago

I am not in tune with many of the Catholic Church applications of Christian (Jesus based), but I think that they do see how the DemocRat Party is subtly attempting to kidnap Christianity for the true purpose of hijacking freedom of religion and replace it with Democrat rule/dominance by basicly patterning it along Communistic lines.

1 month ago

What is wrong with this country? I hardly recognize the USA anymore. It seems the majority are anti everything, Catholics, Jews, pretty much anyone who does not have the same opinions as theirs! It just goes on and on. It seems people spend all their time just looking for things that ‘offend’ them. We used to be the country of freedom and hope. Now we seem to be nothing but a country of hate!

1 month ago

It has become obvious that The Democrat Socialists are Godless culture. Controlled by LIES and Deception of the Evil One. President “Puss For Brains” is merely a pawn and a fool, the Body Guard of Lies. VP Camel-O is about the most immoral consort anyone could imagine.
Our founders were principled and reverent LEADERS!

1 month ago

These “bishops” are on the side of the beast, the governments of this world! They only want butts in the seats to fill their donation coffers with $$$. Dont believe them.

Bernard Palmer
1 month ago

The Eucharist was weaponized at it’s inception. What has changed is human thinking about the Eucharist! It’s well documented that if you value your eternal life partaking in the Eucharist when in a state of sin is tantamount to signing your own demise. The Bishops are simply providing that information again to the laity as they are Biblically tasked to do. Just a shame they have not chosen to do so for a very long time now. Since about back when JFK was the philanderer in chief. They , the Bishops are also tasked with keeping scandal from marring the persona of the Church in the eye of the laity and the unChurched. It is the prolonged failure of most of the Church lay or otherwise up till now that has lead to the current state of Christianity and the deaths of countless millions.

1 month ago

Damn! This article is important, but so poorly written that important points are lost in the minutia!!

You can (and should) do better!!

1 month ago

We need to put conservatives back in ALL areas!!! Bring back the conservative values to our young people who have been brainwashed from all the negative teachings and social media!!

1 month ago
Reply to  Sherrie

Well said!????????

1 month ago
Reply to  Sherry

Those “??????” In above comment were added by the “spelling systems”. It was supposed to be “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Willard moseley
1 month ago

It is time to put a conservative Republican back as Governor, the present one is atrocious and McCaulffies agenda will mirror liberal Democrats. Just more of the same old crap.

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