Diocese Suspends Priest Who Denied Lesbian Buddhist Communion

Parishioners at St. John Neumann parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland were informed at Mass this weekend that Father Marcel Guarnizo, who denied Communion to a lesbian Buddhist, has been suspended from ministry.

Father Marcel Guarnizo

The Washington Post is reporting that the Archdiocese of Washington sent a letter to the parish on March 9 stating that Father Guarnizo had been removed from ministry for “engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry.”

St. John Neumann pastor, Father Thomas LaHood, addressed the situation at the Masses, repeatedly stating that Guarnizo was not removed for the Communion incident but that his suspension pertains to “actions over the past week or two.”

Guarnizo made national headlines a few weeks ago for his handling of Barbara Johnson, a 51 year-old lesbian who was living with a partner, who was denied communion at her mother’s funeral Mass. Johnson, who was later discovered to be a Buddhist, called for the priest’s removal.  

However, LaHood did address the disagreement that unfolded in the parish because of the Johnson incident.

“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,” he said.

After reading the letter, he added:  “I realize this letter is hard to hear. Please keep mind that this is a first personnel issue, dealing with issues of ministry in the church. Father Guarnizo will have every opportunity to present his position.”

After hearing about Guarnizo’s suspension, Johnson issued the following statement: “The Johnson family continues to pray for the Archdiocese of Washington, Father Guarnizo, and all Catholics during this time of upheaval. While we understand this letter does not pertain to the events that occurred at our mother’s funeral, we are hopeful that Bishop Knestout’s decision will ensure that no others will have to undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family. We urge all Catholics to put aside political points of view, and pray that our Church will remain in Christ’s love.”

The archdiocese is refusing to clarify whether or not Guarnizo was suspended because of the Johnson incident or for other reasons. However, immediately after Guarnizo refused communion to Johnson, the archdiocese issued an apology to her which indicated that both sides were at fault.

“We believe that to receive Communion, a person should be in the state of grace, which means that they are not conscious of having committed a sin serious enough that it ruptures their relationship with God. As with any relationship, it is not just a one-sided judgment that determines what hurts the relationship with God.  This determination is based on what the Church teaches objectively from sacred Scripture and tradition of Christian experience,” the archdiocese wrote.

“If a person is conscious of having committed a grave sin, he or she may not receive Communion until they have received absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A person who is conscious of grave sin but has no opportunity to go to Confession may receive Communion for a serious reason, but first that person must pray to Christ expressing their sorrow, also known as a perfect act of contrition, and have the intention of going to Confession as soon as possible.”

The suspension has caused yet another uproar in the Catholic community with many local Catholic bloggers calling for a boycott of donations to the archdiocese.

“From the public relations front, this is a disaster,” writes A Washington DC Blogger. “They may be trying to shield themselves from their own mistakes, but I think that this only makes things worse. The gay and lesbian community will call this a victory.”

The author goes on to speculate: “Were there large numbers of contributors to the Archdiocese who told the Cardinal to either get rid of Fr. Marcel or we will cut our donations to you? I don’t know but I suspect that some of that took place and he could not afford a drop in $$$.”

After asking for prayer for Fr. Guarnizo, the blogger goes on to suggest that diocesan faithful hold their donations to the Cardinal’s appeal and to “be prepared to reduce or eliminate your weekly offering to your parish. This one is the hardest, as we are all members of a parish and want our parish to continue to survive. I am ready to cut my donation in half, if needed. But I will wait at this moment for that.”

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5 Response to “Diocese Suspends Priest Who Denied Lesbian Buddhist Communion

  1. I really believe that the church is under serious attack, and I am confused by a bishop who doesn’t seem to recognize this fact. The gay community’s push for marriage is a major part of this attack. This is just another shot at our church in an attempt to weaken and ultimately destroy her. As long as they can build up a history of “mean” acts that discriminate against them, including eventually a priest who refuses to marry them, they will build a legal offense wherein they will try to sue for discrimination. They are highly organized and will use this and every other opportunity to chip away at our first amendment right to religious freedom.

  2. The matter should have been addressed in private with the family, BEFORE the funeral took place.
    BOTH sided were at fault.

    If one is OPENLY SINNING, and understands the ramifications of being DEFIANT and DISRESPECTFUL of church doctrine…then they were “picking-a-fight,” just to make the church and priest look ‘bad’ … FOR UPHOLDING CHURCH DOCTIRNE in regards to the CENTRAL MOST doctrine over all church teachings!

    The priest is at fault ONLY for “not thinking clearly enough” to learn of these issues BEFOREHAND, so he WOULDN’T be ‘caught off guard’ about what to do if the ‘issue’ should happen to present itself … and for ‘leaving’ during the service…. however, he should NOT have done that…..but, I do NOT believe he should be so severely reprimanded for this oversight, ESPECIALLY if he wasn’t “expecting” this person to come up for HOLY Communion in her (KNOWINGLY and OPEN!) “state of living” and beliefs.
    SINCE WHEN DOES A ‘BUDDHIST’ (or ANY FALSE (pagen!) religion WHO DOESN’T EVEN, ‘BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH’…etc.), POSSESS THE ABILITY (without CONVERSION !) in the FIRST place — to receive the PRECIOUS BODY & BLOOD of our LORD JESUS CHRIST — (unless?) — in danger of death, AND has confessed their error & sins) ?
    This OPEN demonstration is NOTHING SHORT of an attempted ‘SACRILEGE,’ which the GOOD PRIEST was trying to PREVENT !

    HE HAS DONE HIS DUTY TO PROTECT THE BODY & BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST FROM SACRILEGE ….. although he should have stood his ‘ground’ and NOT have left the service….that only made things seem more ‘offensive,’ for the actions of a representative of God’s CATHOLIC Church.

  3. Buddhists have no obligation to receive communion.
    Plain and simple.
    This is an obfuscation of the truth for the sake of sodomite activists.
    If the hierarchy does not rid itself of liberal homosexual sympathizers, the Church is in for some grave suffering.

  4. As a Catholic I could not go into a Muslim Mosque or Buddist Monastery to be buried. What other religion would bury me?
    I sent my children to the same Catholic school I went to in order that they would get the same Catholic education I got. They didn’t. They never heard that it was a sacrilege to go to Holy Communion with a mortal sin on your soul. The respect for Holy Communion is ebbing away, so how can others who are not practising understand it? Some people just don’t realise that when we receive worthily we call God’s blessing on us but the opposite is the case when we recieve unworthily…we call God’s condemnation on us……then they blame God for things not going well in their lives. The church should not be intimidated by threats of losing money, if that is the case. What would Christ do? That is for you to think about, you who are reading this. What I have learned is not to mess with God’s laws. It is too serious for my eternal life.

  5. My family lives up there. The woman entered the Sacristy before Mass and presented her lesbian lover to the Priest. He told her he would not be able to give her communion. She disregarded him and came up for communion anyway, where he discreetly told her no. So discreetly in fact, that she went to a Eucharistic Minister and got communion because the Eucharistic Minister did not see him refuse her. The woman then went to the media. This is a clear case of attacking the church. He gets rewarded for standing up for the Holy Eucharist with a suspension.