Consistent Life Ethic

On Friday, CNN published a brief article describing the differences between John F. Kennedy and John F. Kerry in the eyes of Catholic voters. The moral of the story is pretty obvious at this point. Namely, more observant Catholics favored Bush by 13 points because of his conservative stances on social issues like abortion. What hasn't been so obvious is this.

"Only 29 percent of churchgoing Catholics favor the death penalty for murder. Among less observant Catholics, nearly two-thirds support the death penalty."

This took me very much by surprise and should have surprised the author as well. I had to re-read it a couple times for it to sink in. Opposition to the death penalty is something more often associated with the left side of the spectrum, with the occasional moderate exception, such as myself. There's a known correlation, which the article mentions, between regular church attendance and support for conservative causes. Why, then, do so many wishy-washy Catholics support the death penalty?

I think the author wrote the wrong story – the less interesting one.

Thoughts? Comments?