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Priest who denied lesbian communion exits diocese

A postscript to the incident at a funeral that caused widespread controversy in March.

  • Jason St. Amand
  • United States
  • July 12, 2012
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A Roman Catholic priest who refused to give communion to a lesbian at her mother’s funeral in February is no longer with the Archdiocese of Washington, MSNBC.com reported.

Reverend Marcel Guarnizo of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md., denied communion to Barbara Johnson, a lesbian, at her mother’s funeral service. According to Johnson, Guarnizo told her, "I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin according to the church."

Since the incident, Johnson, a 51-year-old D.C. artist, has been asking the archdiocese to remove the priest and in March, Guarnizo was put on administrative leave from the ministry. A letter from Bishop Barry Kenstout, a top administrator in the archdiocese, which covers Washington and the Maryland suburbs, said the reverend was put on leave because he was "engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry."

But now a spokeswoman for of the Archdiocese of Washington announced that Guarnizo is no longer with the ministry.

"Fr. Marcel Guarnizo is a priest of the Archdiocese of Moscow, Russia, who was given a temporary assignment at St. John Neumann parish," Chieko Noguchi Scheve, director of media and public relations at the Archdiocese of Washington, wrote in an email to MSNBC.com. "That assignment period has ended and Father Guarnizo is no longer in ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington."

Johnson told the website that when she went to receive communion, Guarnizo "issued a strong admonition that only Catholics in a state of grace can receive communion."

"I went up. I was standing next to my mother’s casket and he covered the bowl, and said, ’I cannot give you communion because you are with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.’ I stood there with my mouth open in a state of shock for -- I don’t know how long," Johnson said. She also added that the priest did not attend her mother’s burial.

Full Story: Md. Priest Who Denied Lesbian Communion Leaves Archdiocese

Source: The Edge, Boston
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