When Catholic Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia publicly disputes Church teaching on the death penalty, the message he sends is not so very different from Frances Kissling (of "Catholics for a Free Choice" fame) disputing what the Church teaches about abortion.Chaput is slandering Justice Scalia. Scalia was NOT disputing Church teaching on the death penalty. He was defending the Church teaching on the validity of the death penalty which has been part of Christian tradition for many hundreds of years. It is Pope John Paul II who is disputing Church teaching when he tries to pretend that opposition to the death penalty is required for Catholics. It is not. The quote from St. Thomas Aquinas in the above article was not just his own opinion -- it represents perennial Catholic doctrine which was applicable 800 years ago and is still applicable today. Nothing said by JPII or Chaput can change that.
But recourse to the death penalty is not intrinsically evil. A Catholic who supports the death penalty commits no sin. To compare the two is disingenuous at best, and a direct attack upon conservative pro-life Catholic politicians and activists at worst. It would seem that certain factions within the USCCB are upset that lay Catholic activists and faithful Catholic politicians have forced them into addressing an issue they would much rather continue to ignore.
(Furthermore, Catholics in the pro-life movement tend to share a 95% crossover identity with "orthodox" or conservative Catholics. Certain bishops may see these orthodox lay Catholics as a real threat to their overall liberal agenda. This Jesuit bishops comment may also have been intended as a shot across the bow, i.e "push us on this too hard and we might excommunicate your political heroes --like Santorum and Scalia-- also.")
I'm convinced the author is on to the real agenda here.