Branding the ‘Mark of Kaine’ On Catholics

Following Henry VIII’s establishment of the Church of England, his successors Elizabeth I and James I continued his war upon the island nation’s Catholic subjects. The persecution included the killing and expulsion of priests, jailings of the faithful, expropriations of Church and personal property, loyalty oaths, and recusancy fines, among other state sanctions and punishments. The crown’s goal was nothing less than the eradication of Catholicism within the realm. 

Entrapping and branding faithful Catholics as traitors to the crown was a key source of the persecution and purge, as Leanda de Lisle recounts in her book, After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England:

It was important that people not feel inclined to pity the Catholic clergy or resent their treatment. The most effective way to achieve that was for them to be tarnished by treason. In the past plots had been ‘wakened’ by corralling malcontents into actions against the state . . .

Yet, because of the large numbers of faithful Catholics adamantly refusing to abandon their faith, the crown had to proceed with cunning practicality, indulging wealthy and powerful Catholics—but only if they obeyed the crown and helped lure their coreligionists into compliance with the crown and, ultimately, its official state religion.

Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who identifies as Catholic, is a kindred spirit of these persecuting English monarchs. Per CatholicVote, Kaine has taken it upon himself to have the state investigate his fellow Catholics

‘Kaine said the purpose of the investigation was actually to look into violent extremists who were targeting ‘radical traditionalist Catholics’ in an effort to recruit them,’ reported ABC13, who spoke with the senator:

‘I think the key is communication,’ said Kaine. ‘If the FBI has a concern like that, then go to the church leaders and say ‘Hey look, we have a concern and we don’t want your members to get unwittingly caught up in something’,’ he suggested.

Alleging that the state snooping on your parish is for your own good, Kaine also insinuated an equivalence between Islamic terrorists and “radical traditionalist Catholics” who participate in the Latin Mass, and/or support the Right-to-Life, traditional marriage, and the freedom of conscience—none of which Kaine supports. 

Branding this “mark of Kaine” upon Catholics is slanderous, scandalous, and dangerous. As CatholicVote earlier reported, “the FBI relied on at least one undercover agent to produce its analysis . . .[and] proposed that its agents engage in outreach to Catholic parishes to develop sources among the clergy and church leadership to inform on Americans practicing their faith.” 


According to the limited documentation the FBI released to Congress, the FBI had sought to use Catholic churches as ‘new avenues for tripwire and source development,’ including at ‘mainline Catholic parishes’ and among ‘local diocesan leadership.’

The Agency also aimed to ‘sensitize’ Catholic churchgoers ‘to the warning signs of radicalization,’ and ‘enlist their assistance to serve as suspicious activity tripwires.’

This deliberate interjection of the police powers of the state into the Catholic Church infringes and imperils more than their God-given, constitutionally recognized and protected First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. It is truly an effort to silence dissent on issues, especially abortion, a central tenet of the Left’s civil religion, which one must believe above all other beliefs, including religious faith. Thus, this unconscionable intrusion by the state infringes and imperils the civil liberties and freedom of conscience of all Americans, religious and secular.

Why then did Sen. Kaine, who has taken a sworn oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, abet such an abuse of power?

As former Ambassador Ken Blackwell recounts in his 2016 op-ed, “Tim Kaine’s Radical Roots,” the senator has long been at odds with the tenets of his Catholic faith:

Tim Kaine’s political formation wasn’t pro-American or pro-Catholic, it was pro-Soviet . . . [In the 1980s] Kaine embraced not some reconstituted, post-Marxist version [of Liberation theology], but the hardcore, Cold War variety—an avowed Marxist ideology inimical to the institutional Catholic Church and to the United States.

Blackwell cites a pair of instances wherein Kaine’s Catholic faith is subordinated to the dictates of the Left’s statist civil religion:

In Virginia, he ran as a moderate and ruled as a liberal. Today he runs as a ‘Pope Francis’ Catholic but on abortion and marriage, Kaine opposes Francis.

On the conscience rights of groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, Kaine sided with [President] Obama. Francis sided with the Little Sisters, whom he visited in Washington a year ago to publicly show his support.

To the casual observer, Kaine’s Catholic identity provides the best insulation for the FBI, and salts the wound of the faithful. As Blackwell cautions: “Did Kaine’s mentors teach him the art of Soviet disinformation—call yourself the very thing you seek to undermine and try to destroy it from within? If that is what he’s doing, does it apply just to his faith, or to his country as well?”

As de Lisle also noted, “the story of the Elizabethan Catholic priesthood was not straightforwardly one of Catholic priests versus a savage absolutist state: sometimes it was one of Catholic priests versus Catholic priests.” Presently, it is now also one between members of the Catholic laity: those who subordinate the immutable, infallible teaching of the Church to the power of the state; and those who remain devout and do not.

Not only did Kaine abet the FBI’s active surveillance of devout, wholly observant Catholics to advance the supremacy of the state to religion and silence political dissent, but he also used the power of the state to promote his antithetical views on core doctrines of Catholic teaching on subjects including, again, abortion, traditional marriage, and the freedom of conscience. 

One is hard-pressed to disagree with Ambassador Blackwell’s conclusion: “As in the 1980s, Kaine’s ‘Catholicism’ serves neither his Church nor his country, but a Leftist political agenda that has proven to be on the wrong side of the Church, on the wrong side of history, and against the interests of freedom and the United States.”

Fortunately for Kaine, the Catholic faith believes in contrition and redemption. Thus, Catholics must continue to pray for the softening of Kaine’s hardened heart, and that of every elected official who would persecute the faithful of any religion.

The reward for the worldly is ephemeral wealth and power. The reward for the faithful is eternal salvation. Can one doubt which rewards the once worldly, now damned, English monarchs who persecuted the Church would choose now?

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call