Priest suspended for denying lesbian Communion


A Catholic priest has been suspended after denying Communion to a lesbian attending her mother’s funeral Mass.

The Washington Post reported on March 12 that the Washington Archdiocese suspended the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo for “engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others.”

The funeral took place on Feb. 25 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md.

Barbara Johnson attended her mother’s service with her lesbian partner. When Johnson went for Communion, Guarnizo refused her. Then, when Johnson read a eulogy for her mother, the priest left the altar. He also failed to appear at the burial.

In a letter to Guarnizo, Johnson wrote, “You brought your politics, not your God into that Church yesterday, and you will pay dearly on the day of judgment for judging me. I will pray for your soul, but first I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families.”

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., responding to criticism of the priest’s actions, first said, “When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for Communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.”

A statement from St. John’s parish priest announced the suspension and said, “As we know there’s been disagreement within the parish over how and to whom Communion is distributed. From my perspective this disagreement and related emotions flow from love. Love for Christ, really and truly present in the Eucharist. However, how we live out this love is important. The Scriptures tell us that we are known above all by how we love.”

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