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.
You are clearly correct. That was the entire purpose of Cardinal Bernadin's "seamless garment" -- to make it seem that you weren't truly pro-life unless you supported a range of left-wing causes such as opposition to the death penalty and more welfare payments. "Pro-life is not about abortion" was the 1-sentence summary, as though the slaughter of tens of millions of innocent, defenseless unborn children was somehow equivalent to the righteous execution of duly convicted murderers.
This quote regarding Scalia shows that it was not just the known leftists like Bernadin who were supporting this agenda, it was also the supposed conservatives like Chaput. I heard a priest from "Priests for Life" give a presentation at a communion breakfast in which the entire talk was focused on the "seamless garment" which he mentioned by name, and Cardinal Bernadin by name also. So the moral confusion has penetrated everywhere.