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Priest who denied Holy Communion to lesbian placed on leave

March 12, 2012

Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout of Washington has told local priests that Father Marcel Guarnizo, who denied Holy Communion to a lesbian at her mother’s funeral Mass, “has been placed on administrative leave with his priestly faculties removed.”

“This action was taken after I received credible allegations that Father Guarnizo has engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry,” the bishop added.

“We are hopeful that Bishop Knestout's decision will ensure that no others will have to undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family,” Barbara Johnson, who was denied Holy Communion, said in a statement.

Father Guarnizo, who grew up in Washington, is founder of Aid to the Church in Russia and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Moscow in 1998.


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  • Posted by: impossible - Mar. 16, 2012 12:40 PM ET USA

    What a travesty! When it comes to "Catholic" politicians who abuse the Holy Eucharist, Cardinal Wuerl ignores Canon 915 but comes down like a ton of bricks on one of his priests whose behavior surely fell way short of sacrilege. Perhaps the priest made some comments that did not fit the archdiocesan PC template.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Mar. 13, 2012 9:09 PM ET USA

    So effectively, pragmatically, the bishop "suspended" him. Lets not split hairs here. The bishop took substantial action against the priest and he is neutralized. By Gods grace let us maintain clarity.

  • Posted by: demark8616 - Mar. 13, 2012 1:59 AM ET USA

    The blog 'In the Light of the Law' is already a suggested additional source and offers us a 'real' look at what the Bishop actually said and did. 1. Fr. Guarnizo has not been suspended (suspension is a canonical penalty levied only upon guilt for crimes, per c. 1333), but he has been placed on “administrative leave”, a term not found in the Code, but nevertheless serving as a practical description of a situation in which, usually, one is not permitted to function as a cleric for so long as a wid

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Mar. 12, 2012 9:14 PM ET USA

    I am a practicing Catholic. I practice because I'm not good at it yet. This means I have to go to Confessions when my parish has them for one hour on Saturdays. I cannot always make it in such a narrow time frame. When I don't, I withhold Communion from myself if I must. The way you are supposed to. Why is this lesbian Buddhist more entitled to the Holy Eucharist than I am? Or, in other words, why are her sins less than mine? Looking at you Bishop Knestout. I eagerly await your answer.

  • Posted by: gop - Mar. 12, 2012 8:23 PM ET USA

    can someone please explain this to me why a priest who, to me, did the right thing in denying communion to an active lesbian is disciplined in this way? Is the bishop right? I smell something foul here. Maybe the bishop should also be taken to task for this.

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Mar. 12, 2012 4:44 PM ET USA

    Barbara Johnson is supposed to be a Buddhist and a lesbian, meaning she nevere should have approached Father for Holy Communion in the first place. The enemies of the Church are watching and they know that they can get away with anything and everything because many leaders in the Church care more about political correctness and human respect then promoting and defending the orthodox Catholic Faith. How many bishops TRULY believe in the Real Presence and the Catholic Faith?

  • Posted by: williiam ronner - Mar. 12, 2012 3:58 PM ET USA

    The gay community won. Case closed until Judgement Day

  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Mar. 12, 2012 9:55 AM ET USA

    This was obviously a coordinated effort to get Fr. Guarnizo out of ministry. WaPo says a bunch of people sent letters about the priest committing 'intimidating behavior.' Sounds bogus to me. The lesbian made it clear that her goal was to get him out of ministry, and, sadly, she has succeeded. I really wish the Church did not cave in to this manufactured pressure. I am sad and disappointed. It's one thing to be persecuted by others; it's another to persecute ourselves!

  • Posted by: koinonia - Mar. 12, 2012 7:12 AM ET USA

    This priest is surely not as menacing as this sounds. Or is he?