Skip to comments.Archdiocese of Washington reprimands priest for denying communion to a lesbian
Posted on 02/29/2012 6:08:22 PM PST by Morgana
GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND, February 29, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) A parish priest in Maryland, who denied communion to a woman who identified herself as a lesbian, has been publicly rebuked by the Archdiocese of Washington.
Barbara Johnson attended her mothers funeral last Saturday and introduced her lesbian partner to the priest before Mass.
Fr. Marcel Guarnizo of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, covered the Host as she approached and told her, I cant give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the Church, that is a sin.
Afterwards, she wrote him a letter telling him, 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.
Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout wrote a formal letter of apology telling Johnson, I am sorry that what should have been a celebration of your mothers life, in light of her faith in Jesus Christ, was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity.
The Archdiocese of Washington issued a brief press release saying Fr. Guarnizos actions were inappropriate. 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.
After receiving the letter of apology, Johnson said I will not be satisfied until Fr. Guarnizo is removed from the parish.
Monsignor Charles Pope, who blogs for the Archdiocese of Washingtons website, told LifeSiteNews.com, One would presume a priest would have had more ongoing conversations with somebody of a private nature before one would publicly deny somebody communion.
There may be a time when a pastor has concerns about a parishioner and then speaks to them privately and advises them privately not to receive communion, he said. But we dont have these confrontations at the altar rail.
Canon 915 of the Roman Catholic Churchs Code of Canon Law admonishes priests to deny Holy Communion to those who are obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
The New Commentary on Canon Law states: Eucharistic Ministers are also to refuse holy communion when they are certain (1) that a person has committed a sin that is objectively grave, (2) that the sinner is obstinately persevering in this sinful state, and (3) that this sin is manifest, or widely known to those present at the Mass.
The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops established engaging in sexual activity outside the bonds of a valid marriage as such a sin in its 2006 publication Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist.
Catholics who are conscious of committing any mortal sin must receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion, they wrote.
Public denial of communion must also be preceded by a private warning not to come forward to communion.
The commentary on the 1983 Code of Canon Law, prepared by the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, states, before a minister can lawfully refuse the Eucharist, he must be certain that the person obstinately persists in a sinful situation or in sinful behavior that is manifest (i.e. public) and objectively grave.
Most canonists, including pastors and priests, interpret that not just as not just a quick conversation but something of a more substantial nature, Monsignor Pope told LifeSiteNews.
Dr. Ed Peters, a canon lawyer at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, wrote a few minutes conversation would not suffice, in the face of numerous canons protecting the right of the faithful to receive the sacraments, to verify either the notoriety of the (objectively) sinful situation, or to verify the obstinacy of the would-be recipient. However, Dr. Peters noted after a sufficient period of warning and instruction, a priest would be well within his rights to invoke Canon 915 and deny communion to an obstinate, sexually active homosexual.
I dont know that that can be determined by a brief interaction in a sacristy, Msgr. Pope told LifeSiteNews.
Fr. Guarnizo may have been forcibly denied the opportunity to expand on his conversation. A commenter on Deacon Greg Kandras blog, who claimed to have been in a meeting with Fr Marcel and heard the whole story, wrote: The woman in question brought her lesbian partner into the vesting sacristy just before the funeral Mass and made sure to introduce her partner to Fr. Marcel, introducing her as her lover. He told her then that she should not present herself for Communion. A commenter claimed Barbaras partner blocked his way out of the sacristy when he attempted to speak with her further.
The Catholic Church believes a faithful Christian has such an interest in receiving Holy Communion that it must only be denied only in extreme cases. When in doubt, give it out, Msgr. Pope said.
The popular blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf wrote no one should be surprised that questions persist about when to publicly deny someone communion.
Fr. Zuhlsdorf writes that Many priests have received inadequate training in these matters of law and have been given even worse example by bishops who ought to be applying can. 915 is genuine cases of applicability, he wrote.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, waded into a similar controversy in 2009 when he said he would not deny House Speaker Nancy Pelosi communion, claiming to do so would amount to Communion wielded as a weapon. When asked, he said, theres a question about whether this canon  was ever intended to be used.
Fr. Zuhlsdorf described Fr. Guarnizos actions as well-meaning but premature, adding he could not find fault with his motivation.
He should be thanked for taking his role seriously and for wanting to uphold the Churchs teaching, he wrote.
Fr. Guarnizo did not return messages left by LifeSiteNews.
Dear Charles Marx
What will Obamacare do when Adam and Steve contract AIDS, MERSA, and Hepatitis B? How will Obamacare handle the costs of Adam and Steve when they can no longer work and are in a Hospice dying of these? How will the government pay for their funeral when they are dead at age 40 of these terminal diseases?
John Q Public
The gummint will get the money out of wasteful spending on blood pressure medicine, insulin, kidney medications, and other medications used by those aging white folks who tend to vote REPUBLICAN!!!
Actually, I really did want an honest explanation. I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept. Thanks!
IMHO It’s odd to pick and choose which sins to chastise someone for.
“I’m not a Catholic but I wish the church would grow some cojones. I was heartened by their attitude towards the nobamacare contraception debacle.”
This story indicates why Obama has nothing to fear from the “Catholic vote”; it is not a bloc, and the hierarchy was in bed with him until he publicly discredited them. Until their religious exemption was removed, they had no problem with their flock being mandated to buy insurance which in most cases included contraceptives (including abortifacients). The Catholic hierarchy (in the US) played a role in Obama’s election through their inaction; any messages from Rome were well watered down by the time they reached the people in the pews (where any message was sent at all).
Someday the Catholic Church will realize that their donation fall in proportion to increases in taxes paid to Caesar.
“Is Communion denied to all sinners, or just gay ones?”
If the priest has personal knowledge that my soul is not in a state to receive Communion, he should not administer it (if he believes the Church teaching that God is present in the Host). For most sinners the priest doesn’t have that knowledge; this deviant shared it with him. Maybe they need to keep some unconsecrated Hosts available, to give these people a feeling of inclusion.../s
The American Catholic hierarchy has indicated they no longer believe in the Divine Presence when they administer it to people who bring public scandal to the Church, be they politicians or out-of-the-closet perverts. The American Catholics have in turn stopped attending Mass, believing anything, etc.
This is not a Fed vs. Catholic issue. There are millions more of us who have the conviction against paying for other people's moral . . . or immoral, as the case may be . . . choices.
My wife and I made phone calls to our U.S. senators again, just prior to the failed Blunt amendment vote, and once again registered our objection to the purchase of these insurances on the grounds of our religious faith, and we are no where near being Catholic.
Ministers, by the way, who do so within two years of being ordained by their (any) church, may opt completely out of the Social Security system for the same religious convictions. This is PRECEDENT for opting out of "Obama Care."
Of course, we believe that ANY believer with the same convictions as their ministers (and, isn't THAT the idea behind the ministry ??? . . . leading their flock ???) should have the same exemption available, to opt completely out of the Social Security mess. It kind of lends a justification for "ordaining" all of the members of our church. Some ministers, in fact, who were not aware of the opt-out rule for ministers within the two years after ordination, get RE-ORDAINED so that they can opt out.
FOR this reason (that of objecting to paying for other people's moral or immoral choices), and many other reasons, we often remind our elected representatives of our conscientious objection of participation in Obama Care.
“This is not a Fed vs. Catholic issue.”
You’re right; this is a Catholic hierarchy vs. Catholic laiety issue. Why was it acceptable to our hierarchy that us little people would be forced into buying such insurance?
Its odd to pick and choose which sins to chastise someone for.
The Almighty has laid out the rules.
Here is how I see it, applied to a COMPLETELY hypothetical example at our church (conservative, bible church):
Say there is a member named Bob (I just picked a name; I apologize to anyone at FR named “Bob”!). Say Bob is married. If Bob committed adultery, but was repentant, the church would forgive his sin, of course, as we all are sinners.
But if Bob was in a continuous process of committing adultery, openly displayed it at church, announced it and was proud of it, our church would have a big issue with Bob.
If he knows of the person's sin only through the Confessional, he is absolutely forbidden to act on that knowledge. He can act only if the sin is publicly known. Denying Communion on the basis of private knowledge of the person's sin is tantamount to making that knowledge public.
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I wonder if this homosexual and her "partner" planned this in some way. Was the daughter of the deceased attending Catholic Church regularly? Seems the two homosexuals met with the priest beforehand and displayed their aggression and rebellion. Their perverted sex acts mean more to them than God, His laws, or the church. The priest did a good deed and upheld religious principles. He deserves support, not condemnation.
What an odd stance. The priest must obey his bishop, but in doing so he facillitates a mortal sin.
What an odd stance. The priest must obey his bishop, but in doing so he facillitates a mortal sin.
I’m not Catholic. But it sounds to me like a few excommunications are in order.