Action Alert!

What we do know: a priest betrayed

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 15, 2012

Many readers found fault with my “On the News” piece detailing all the things we don’t know about the case of Father Marcel Guarnizo. One of the major frequent criticisms was that I failed to take account of the apology issued by the Washington archdiocese soon after the incident in which Father Guarnizo refused to administer Communion to the lesbian activist Barbara Johnson.

That complaint is on target. I should have written about the initial response from the archdiocese. At the time there were many important things we did not know—we know much more now, since Father Guarnizo has issued a statement in his own defense—but that first public statement from the archdiocese gave readers good reason to fear that the archdiocese was ready to sacrifice the reputation of a priest (and, not just by the way, the integrity of the Eucharist) in order to deflect political criticism. I am sorry that I did not make this point in my original piece on the matter, but I flesh out the argument today in an On the News analysis.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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