Scalia's position is completely in line with Church teaching. Refer to Catechism of the Catholic Church #2267 and Evangelium vitae #56. Scalia's remarks are directed at those Catholic jurists who refuse to follow the law and impose the death penalty, even when it is justified. Thus they legislate from the bench, which is not their role.
Joan of Arc was a good Catholic and she was burned at the stake by a Catholic, bishop led, tribunal.
Joan of Arc's canonization came about 25 years later, necessitated by a need for the king of France to overcome criticism for being king as a result of acts by a convicted heretic and witch.
While there is considerable opposition to the death penalty in certain sectors of the Church, including, apparently, the Pope, it's still legitimate. Much of the opposition, actually, is from left-wing clergy who are covertly in favor of abortion and use the death penalty issue as a way of attempting to delegitimize the anti-abortion movement. It's called the "seamless garment" - meaning that if you're opposed to abortion, you also have to be opposed to the death penalty, ignoring the difference between an innocent unborn child and, say, a cold-blooded mass murderer. And ignoring the fact that abortion IS forbidden by the Church, without any ambiguity.
I was very glad that Scalia said what he did. A judge who doesn't want to impose this penalty should excuse himself from death penalty cases. It's time to discuss this matter openly.
In the latest Catechism of the Catholic Church "The Death Penalty " is allowed but as a last resort when the state can't protect the public good from the criminal in any other way.
This anti death penalty only became a cause of the church in the last few years, perhaps 1997 or so.
No, with regard to his opinion on the death penalty. This article doesn't make clear whether Scalia is correctly informed on the Church's position, but Pope John Paul II has made it clear that he continues to uphold the Church's teaching that the death penalty, in principle, is perfectly legitimate. It's just the current Pope's personal opinion that today, in today's current situation of civilized countries, there doesn't exist a necessity to continue the PRACTICE of the death penalty (although, like I said, he fully recognizes the legitimacy of the death penalty in PRINCIPLE).
The Pope's personal reasoning on this is that the death penalty should be an absolute last resort treatment for a criminal when there is no other means available to keep a society safe and secure from such a criminal (e.g., if the criminal lived in a society that did not have safe, secure prisons, or if there was any chance that the criminal could somehow harm any other member of such a society). It is the current Pope's opinion that, for example, in America we possess the facilities that can reliably keep a prisoner secure and ensure that he/she never harms another human being.
However, all this being said, it is completely within the rights of an individual Catholic to disagree with the Pope on this particular issue, because it is simply the Pope's personal opinion. However, neither the Pope nor any other individual Catholic is able to deny the legitimacy of the PRINCIPLE of the death penalty, and still remain a good Catholic (in the general sense of the term). And rest assured, there are many obedient Catholics who vehemently disagree with the Pope, and there are many obedient Catholics who vehemently agree with the Pope on his personal opinion on this subject.