Yet his mother had a deep faith and strong support from her family and parish, and she raised her sons not to have a vengeful attitude. Naumann has carried his upbringing with him as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) pro-life committee, advocating for a culture of life that protects unborn children and works to end the death penalty.
“In the eyes of God, we’re still made in His image, and we still have a dignity. And the Lord came to redeem us,” he told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly. “From the cross, He was still forgiving His executioners. Once we understand that we need God’s mercy, then we want to extend that mercy to others.”
“Whether it’s the unborn child that may be the object of a difficult pregnancy, or whether it’s the criminal on death row – every life is sacred, and destroying life is never what the Gospel calls us to do,” Naumann said.
He recognized circumstances that may warrant the taking of a life, such as self-defense, “but for capital punishment, our society has other alternatives, other options on how we can protect people from violent criminals, and actually give them the opportunity for reform and for conversion,” he said.
Naumann’s father was a professional baseball player who served in World War II. By December 1948, his wife was pregnant with their second child – Joseph.
“It was precisely a week before Christmas. He went to work that day, and never came home. He was murdered on the job,” Naumann said of his father Fred, who managed a liquor store in St. Louis.