Editor’s note: This article was updated on Wednesday March 1, 2023.
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — Heretical pro-LGBT Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin has publicly asked US bishops if they will call for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is Catholic, to be denied Communion because he supports the death penalty.
Last week, the Republican governor signed the death warrant for a convict on charges of a second murder committed after the man escaped from a life sentence imposed for his first murder.
In response to the execution of Donald Dillbeck, Martin used the issue to imply that DeSantis was dissenting from Catholic teaching on the death penalty, in what appears to be a tit-for-tat with Catholic bishops who insist that pro-abortion politicians and those who engage in sexual acts outside of marriage, such as those living a homosexual lifestyle — and whom Martin continually defends — may not receive Holy Communion.
Taking to Twitter, his preferred pulpit, Martin wrote, “Many US bishops have said that Catholic politicians who don’t follow church teachings, especially on life issues, should be denied Communion. Will they call for @GovRonDeSantis to be denied Communion? Church teaching is that the death penalty is ‘inadmissible.’”
Many US bishops have said that Catholic politicians who don’t follow church teachings, especially on life issues, should be denied Communion. Will they call for @GovRonDeSantis to be denied Communion? Church teaching is that the death penalty is “inadmissible.” https://t.co/s6HrcIv4Zl pic.twitter.com/msZbzJYVlG
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) February 25, 2023
Dillbeck was executed on Feb. 23 after DeSantis signed the death warrant in January. The day before the execution, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a petition for a stay on the death penalty issued by lawyers arguing that the convict suffered from “developmental disabilities as a result of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, as well as effects of childhood abuse,” Our Sunday Visitor News reported last week.
Dillbeck, 59, had been convicted of murdering Faye Lamb Vann in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1990. He had stabbed her to death in an attempt to steal her car. According to reports, the murder was committed after the convict had escaped from a work-release job while serving a life sentence for a previous murder committed 11 years earlier. In 1979, when Dillbeck was 15 years old, he had killed Lee County Deputy Dwight Lynn Hall.
In an effort to reverse Dillbeck’s sentence, the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops asked DeSantis in a Feb. 6 letter to stay his execution and commute the sentence to life without parole even though they acknowledged that Dillbeck’s “heinous and violent crimes have caused tremendous grief and suffering to the victims’ loved ones and communities.”
The bishops wrote, “We hold that the death penalty should be inadmissible due to modern systems of incarceration whereby society can be kept safe and prisoners punished,” not heeding the fact that the second murder was committed after the man escaped from a life sentence for a first murder.
As LifeSiteNews has previously reported, DeSantis has insisted that he is committed to making Florida safer by enforcing and strengthening the state’s laws on criminal justice, including capital punishment. Earlier this year, DeSantis announced a 2023 criminal justice agenda to include life in prison and the death penalty for pedophiles. According to a Jan. 26 news release, his proposed laws would require “convicted child rapists to serve at least life in prison” and would explore the possibility of making them “eligible for the death penalty.”
In 2018 Pope Francis changed the Catechism and declared that the death penalty is “inadmissible.” He recently reiterated this position in comments made in his annual meeting with the diplomatic corps of ambassadors accredited to the Holy See. In those comments, Pope Francis called for an end to the death penalty, calling it “always inadmissible,” in contrast to the Church’s traditional teaching that the imposition of capital punishment for a grave and irremediable crime is an act of retributive and punitive justice that belongs properly to the authority of the State to impose.
The Pope said, “The death penalty cannot be employed for a purported State justice, since it does not constitute a deterrent nor render justice to victims, but only fuels the thirst for vengeance. I appeal, then, for an end to the death penalty, which is always inadmissible since it attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person, in the legislation of all the countries of the world.”
Pope Francis’s repeated arguments against the death penalty come in complete opposition to the writings, teaching, and statements of theologians, saints, and the magisterium throughout the history of the Church. Scholars such as Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette have extensively pointed out in their co-authored book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.
The idea that death penalty is “inadmissible” is even against the words of Scripture, for in the book of Genesis capital punishment is permitted precisely because murder violates man’s dignity as being made in the image of God: ‘whosever shall shed man’s blood, his blood shall be shed: for man was made to the image of God’ (Gen 9:6).”
This teaching is further proposed by St. Thomas Aquinas, who drew from Scripture himself to teach that the common good is protected, and justice preserved, by observing the death penalty. (Summa Theologiae, 2a 2ae, q64, a2 & a3).
Martin’s question to the bishops about DeSantis comes on the heels of an announcement by Catholic Action for Faith and Family (CAFF) initiating “a nationwide, laity-led campaign to ensure all 41,000 Catholic clergy members (bishops, priests, and deacons) in the United States receive a copy of Raymond Cardinal Burke’s new book entitled Deny Holy Communion?”
According to CAFF’s press release, “In the 65-page book, Cardinal Burke presents the Church’s pastoral response to widespread confusion regarding worthy reception of the Eucharist.”
Lamenting the scandal of Catholic politicians who notoriously disregard the Church’s teaching on abortion, the group declared, “Catholic public figures, such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden, have made headlines and stirred controversy by receiving Holy Communion despite publicly advocating for abortion rights and other issues at odds with Catholic teaching … The ensuing confusion and scandal are another reason why CAFF’s campaign is all the more crucial for educating Catholic clergy and laity.”
Fr. Martin is notorious for his open and heretical promotion of homosexual lifestyles and his celebration of homosexuality as a great “gift” for the Church. His tweets stating the homosexual Pete Buttigieg was “married” drew strong condemnation from numerous bishops and priests, with a Spanish priest denouncing him out for “speaking out on social media in a scandalous way against the Catholic faith.”
Martin has a longstanding record of promoting LGBT ideology in dissent from Catholic teaching. Among his most notorious actions, Martin has promoted an image drawn from a series of blasphemous, homoerotic works, showing Christ as a homosexual, promoted same-sex civil unions, and has described viewing God as male as “damaging.”
Given Martin’s vocal rejection of longstanding Church teaching on such things as the sinfulness of homosexual acts and lifestyles, his comments about DeSantis will likely be seen by faithful Catholics as just another expression of derision toward those who do not accept the progressive agenda of the Left in either politics or the Church.