Father Marcel Guarnizo
A priest in the United States has refused to give a woman communion during her mother’s funeral after he discovered that she is lesbian.
A grieving Barbara Johnson attended her mother’s funeral at the St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, in the state of Maryland, last Saturday with her partner of 20 years.
According to the woman, when she stepped up to Father Marcel Guarnizo to receive communion, he refused to do so.
“He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,’ ” Johnson told The Washington Post.
The priest had apparently learned just minutes earlier that she was romantically involved with another woman.
The shocked Johnson did not protest at the time in an attempt to keep the funeral dignified.
Later, when she delivered her eulogy in the church, Guarnizo added insult to injury and left the alter, only returning when she was finished. He also refused to attend the burial.
Johnson wrote a letter to Guarnizo in which she said: “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 Archdiocese of Washington sent Johnson a weak letter of apology after the incident.
“I am sorry that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life, in light of her faith in Jesus Christ, was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity,” wrote the Rev. Barry Knestout.
“I hope that healing and reconciliation with the Church might be possible for you and any others who were affected by this experience. In the meantime, I will offer Mass for the happy repose of your mother’s soul.”
Johnson welcomed the apology but remains insistent that Guarnizo must be removed from his position.