Archdiocese of Washington sends apology to lesbian who was denied communion — UPDATED


Late Tuesday, [Barbara] Johnson received a letter of apology from the Rev. Barry Knestout, one of the archdiocese’s highest-ranking administrators, who said the lack of “kindness” she and her family received “is a cause of great concern and personal regret to me.”

“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,” Knestout wrote. “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. May God bring you and your family comfort in your grief and hope in the Resurrection.”

Johnson called the letter “comforting” and said she greatly appreciates the apology. But, she added, “I will not be satisfied” until Guarnizo is removed.

Read more.

UPDATE: Canon lawyer Ed Peters — a frequent commenter on these issues, and in this thread — has weighed in at his own blog:

This is what happens when bizarre events (like an admitted practicing lesbian presenting herself for holy Communion in the first place), happen on the watch of priests whose love for the Eucharist probably exceeds their knowledge of the law on reception of holy Communion (through no fault of their own, doubtless), before a well-wired-world that can broadcast misinformation and even flatly wrong interpretations of an event with nary a care for correcting itself later. No matter who gets hurt along the way. And plenty of people have been hurt in this one.

I have expended no little effort over many years (like about 22) trying to get Canon 915 correctly understood and properly applied in ecclesiastical life. In the last few years, some signs of progress have appeared. Now, out of nowhere, Canon 915 is being invoked by some as justification for an action that, reading the facts as alleged in the light most favorable to the minister, would not have justified his withholding holy Communion from the woman in question. Specifically, a few minutes conversation (if that’s what happened), mostly with a third party (if that’s what happened), would not suffice, in the face of numerous canons protecting the right of the faithful to receive the sacraments, to verify either the notoriety of the (objectively) sinful situation, or to verify the obstinacy of the would-be recipient, both of which elements, among others in Canon 915, mustbe demonstrated before withholding holy Communion.

UPDATE II:   Full text of apology letter is here.


  1. Oh, for God’s sake.

    The Archdiocese is going to start apologizing to everyone who’s offended by a priest’s actions during a liturgy?

    If you’re offended and feel left out by a celebrant’s buffoonery or ad-libbing?

    If you’re offended and feel left out of the Church Universal by a superficial homily?

    If you’re offended and feel left out by the Archdiocese’s refusal to implement Summorum Pontificum?


    Didn’t think so.

  2. Well that is unfortunate. Both the apology (has any investigation even been performed?) and the demand for his “removal.”

  3. So not even an apology is the answer. She demands the priest be removed. Ellen has it right. Every time we are offended and a priest gets between us and our God and hurts our feelings, they have to be removed.

    With the states passing gay marriage laws, expect more of these confrontations between the gay community which overwhelmingly hates the Catholic Church and priests who do not toe the line. I would hate to think this lifelong Catholic is a gay activist who knew of strong feeling by this priest against her special rights and used her mothers funeral to make a point. I see from links of other comments in the other sting on this topic he was also very outspoken against abortion and has made some strong statements against the Obama HHS attack on religious liberty as well. Note, I said I would hate to think this about this woman, but I have seen some pretty outrageous activity by the gay activist against the Church to make their point.

    At any rate, I think she has all that should be provided for her with this apology and in fact more than I would have provided. I think the first statement was enough without this letter as well. Expect a lawsuit as well. And the family did not want to do anything to harm the Catholic Church…right.

  4. I think the lesbian is right, the preist should be removed. What was this women’s crime? She was in a loving relationship, it just happened to be with another women. Love will trump all else, not judgement. Doesn’t this preist know that homosexuality and abortion should not be discussed or condemned in a church? Get with the times man.

  5. Kathy Schiffer says:

    What Ellen said.
    Oh, for Pete’s sake.

  6. Mark and Ellen are right on the money with this one!
    “With the states passing gay marriage laws, expect more of these confrontations between the gay community which overwhelmingly hates the Catholic Church and priests who do not toe the line. I would hate to think this lifelong Catholic is a gay activist who knew of strong feeling by this priest against her SPECIAL rights and used her mothers funeral to make a point. ”
    Condolences for the death of a loved one..but this seems all so contrived.
    A reporter goes looking for Father Marcel… ““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,’ ” Barbara Johnson told my colleague Michelle Boorstein in a GRIPPING story.” Gripping?????????????

  7. If not condemned in Church, where? The Church, following the Divine and Natural laws, is more “in the times” than most, in that its philosophy is timeless. Are the women in love? Maybe. But love is to will the good for another. In refusing her communion, the priest was acting most lovingly, so as to save her soul. The priest was doing his duty. The only debate should be over the publicity of her sin, which is canonically the only time to refuse Holy Communion.

    The priest should not be removed, and she should stop her sin.

    Truth will always be painful to those who refuse it.

  8. If someone wears their mortal sins on their sleeve, the priest is obliged to prevent sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion by that individual. He or she who receives unworthily eats and drinks judgment upon themselves. The priest was doing this woman a favor.

    This is just part and parcel with the apostacy that has infected the Church worldwide. If the integrity of the Holy Eucharist is not worthy of being defended, what is?

  9. Moreover, we’re going to probably hear “emotionally-wrenching” anecdotes about her beloved family members who decide to damn themselves by abandoning their faith over this. Congratulations to the Archdiocese of Washington for siding with the secular and poorly catechized mob.

  10. She will not be satisfied until he is removed. Doesn’t that say everything that needs to be said about this woman? She was trying to provoke a reaction and confrontation and is using it now to score points for the LGB community.

    Someone should sit this “high-ranking administrator” down and give him the full picture. After that, he should probably retract the apology and issue one to the priest instead.

  11. Questions have been raised about whether or not Barbara Johnson has an “agenda.” She has also been depicted as a “life-long Catholic.” She also claims that she had no idea that her lifestyle might be a problem as to receiving Communion.

    I spent a few minutes googling the individual, who is in her late 50s and now runs a private art school in the Maryland suburbs of DC in her hometown (Mount Rainier). By her own words, according to an interview with her that runs on a blog (see below), she adheres to a Buddhist philosophy (“Buddhist life style that she bases her day to day decisions on”). In the same interview she also claims to have had “ideological differences” during her stint teaching at Elizabeth Seton (“Then I was doing the Seton thing and as you well know there were lots of ideological differences.”). You can check it here:

    Not sure about any “agenda” on her part, but in the interview she mentions that she is working on a masters in art education and reports, “I wrote a paper about Hetero-normativity, Homophobia and teachers; and how the idea that if teachers that were gay could be open in schools it would have a positive impact on bullying.”

    Whatever can be said about this situation, it’s quite certain that this matter has NOT been fully and accurately reported.

    Just as fascinating is to learn about the priest, who has a very interesting intellectual and ecclesiastical background.

  12. Richard Johnson says:

    “Someone should sit this “high-ranking administrator” down and give him the full picture. After that, he should probably retract the apology and issue one to the priest instead.”

    Yes, because it’s obvious that the Archdiocese could not possibly have ascertained what really happened. Instead they should trust the word of those in the blogosphere who, thanks to God’s miraculous word of knowledge, know the truth about all that has happened in this matter.

    So much for honoring the authority of the church. See you in the cafeteria.

  13. Thanks Mark for the p.i. work. all the information I need. I wonder if she has any issues with “hetero-normativity”…. hmmm.

  14. “But, she added, “I will not be satisfied” until Guarnizo is removed.”

    But apparently the Lord will be satisfied that she continues to flout His Law.

    The effrontery of this woman.

  15. Richard, a letter from a diocesan administrator has no doctrinal authority. zero.

    I also don’t believe that the letter states that any investigation was done; so it appears to have been a relatively knee-jerk reaction to this woman’s complaint of outrageous behavior. Father Knestout no doubt had good motives, but yes the additional information coming on on the internet tends to cast doubt on the entire legitimacy of her complaint. I would like to see the Archdiocese clarify whether an investigation was performed rather than having it appear that a priest was quickly thrown under a bus to appease the prevailing PC gods of the day.

  16. Just like agenda driven and trial lawyer financed SNAP, another member of the “never enough” club it appears.

    I certainly don’t have all of the facts, but it certainly appears that a very holy priest was the real victim in all of this.

  17. Baltomore Catechesis says:

    As a Catholic in the Washington Archdiocese,I’m a little out of sorts this morning.
    After reading Bishop Knestout’s apology, I feel like I went to bed as a Catholic and woke up as a Unitarian!

  18. Thanks, Kevin, for the compliment, but it was just a little fact-checking on the internet. Regarding any “issues with ‘hetero-normativity’” which she may have, you can actually read her masters research paper, which is linked to her page on the website of the school where she’s studying:

    On pages 9-10 of the term paper , she discusses her experience at Elizabeth Seton and mentions that she was hired despite the principal’s full knowledge of who she was (“In my interview, we talked openly about my being a lesbian and a Buddhist.”)

    Did she have an “agenda” in insisting on receiving Communion ? Is she really a “life-long Catholic” as she has been portrayed? Is there more to this story? You be the judge 

  19. Wasn’t the priest actually protecting this woman from herself? Taking communion while in such a state of sin would have placed her in further spiritual danger. Even before I was a convert, I never understood why someone could be so against the tenants of the Catholic church and yet still want to remain to cause such trouble.

  20. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Pretty interesting stuff, Mark.

    I wonder: what would have happened if the priest had done nothing?

    What would have happened if, learning about the situation right before Mass, and seeing her approach to receive communion, he’d given her communion anyway?

    Among other things, I suspect we’d be talking about Leap Day or Rick Santorum this morning.

    Dcn. G.

  21. The Archdiocese is not making a moral pronouncement, but a procedural one. Cafeteria Catholics are such as those who think the Eucharist is something served in a cafeteria.

  22. Correct. The Archdiocese wanted everyone to know about its friendship with PC Caesar at the expense of a priest who was merely defending Christ Himself, who makes Himself utterly vulnerable to desecration in the Blessed Sacrament unless people of good will and good faith put themselves on the line like this good priest.

  23. So…Deacon Greg…what is the Eucharist?

    Does it actually *mean* anything?

    Is it a sign of *real* unity or something artificial?

    Giving the Eucharist to a Buddhist is..okay now?

  24. Bingo.

  25. What does sadly seem to be missed in the firestorm is that this was a mass of the resurrection & (what I hope) followed was a proper rite of Christian burial for a lady who by all accounts was a person in good standing in the church.

    it was not about

    * grieving angelic daughter and crazy, mean spirited priest
    * lesbian/( ie perpetual sinner unlike the rest of us, let me find a cannon law chapter to quote, did I say LESBIAN loud enough) daughter and Father ” defender of the faith”

    ( select your story line)

    two simple thoughts

    * anyone with any knowledge of the church and an ounce of class would not highlight their gay living relationship to a new priest before a funeral mass. Someone who taught in a catholic high school knows this. ” Father this is my close friend Mary” would have sufficed. ( I would expect the same discretion from an unmarried hetro couple who lived together)

    * a priest who didn’t follow the church and his Archbishop’s precepts on private discussion vs public condemnation vis-a-vis refusal of communion and walks off altar, makes a public scene, skips the burial needs to be much much better than that. No matter what narrative you follow, two wrongs do not make a right. Even reading all the unattributed back-stories offered here I think Father owes the family an apology.

    In society today it takes a very unusual grace to sincerely apologize when we are wrong to someone who continues to work against us or mock us or or spit in our face or slap our face. It is modeled too rarely in our world.

  26. First, Barbara Johnson puts this on a blog or two and it gets picked up by every pro-gay, left wing blog. Then, parts of the story seem to come out about what happened. Then, we hear from her family that they really don’t want to make a big thing out of this and this really isn’t about the Catholic Church. We learn more about the situation and her being a “lifelong catholic.” Now, we get an apology and she wants the priest removed.

    Folks, this may not have been a planned set-up to make the Church look bad, but she is taking full advantage of the situation.

  27. I agree that the apology — and offer to celebrate a Mass for the repose of the mother’s soul — is enough. Most Catholics have at one time or another been offended by priests who have behaved in a less than pastoral manner (I am recalling one incident long ago, also in the Archdiocese of Washington, where a priest, who thought he was God’s gift to liturgy, asked a slightly developmentally disabled man to withdraw from our folk choir because he would come in a little behind the rest of us; this priest’s lack of charity was far more damaging than the supposed problem he was trying to “remedy”). If we fired every priest who offended us, we would have no priests left!

  28. I don’t think the priest was being insensitive at all: If the priest, aware that the onset of an illness, were excusing himself during the eulogy (which is NOT part of the liturgical rite of Christian Burial) in order to arrange another priest to accompany the family to the cemetery, then he was acting in a most prudent and pastorally sensitive manner. As to the private vs. public discussion issue, those the woman in question made it a public issue by presenting herself for communion.

  29. Thanks for putting together this information….very enlightening!!!!

  30. What is the priest to apologize for? Was he supposed to just look the other way?

    We simply don’t know enough about the circumstances, especially what the priest knew about this woman. But it strikes me that he was in a no-win situation.

    Wasn’t his prime responsibility at that Mass the soul of the deceased – wasn’t that the point of the Mass? It was not about the daughter and her “agenda” or her needs. By her own published statements, she is a practicing Buddhist and openly lesbian in a long relationship. Yes, the priest took ill and was unable to attend the graveside burial, but he made arrangements for another priest to attend. If he absented himself from the altar during the daughter’s eulogy, do we know what his intentions or motive was? He is the assistant pastor of a church; it is possible that he had an urgent matter to attend to and may have intended nothing by it.

    We simply don’t know all the facts, and I’m not willing to “pile on” the priest in this matter.

  31. Yes, Anthony, it occurred to me that he absented himself during the eulogy to make a phone call to arrange a replacement at the graveside ceremony.

    There has been too much of a “pile on” regarding the priest; everyone too quick to frame him as the “bad guy” in this matter; clearly a “rush to judgement.”

  32. What Catechism are you reading? Your remarks are truly inane.

  33. Just don’t go to bed as a Unitarian! I did that once and woke up pagan! :)
    ……*disclaimer (I was never Unitarian, and no actual Unitarians were forced to drink non-fair-trade coffee or otherwise harmed in the making of this tasteless joke!)

  34. This woman will have along wait for satisfaction. This priest will not and should not be removed. She has a huge agenda and playing this for all its worth.

  35. Got your back on that statement. Why would a church official apologize for this courageous priest who upholds the teaching of the church and who was acting with more charity toward the sinner than the administrator? And the odd thing is we have to realize that this priest knew this women well enough to be able to state to her what impeded her from receiving communion. So one would have to realize this was certainly a challenge to the priest at a time when ‘all eyes’ would be on the situation. I can only agree that this was a challenge to see what would happen. Tragically, the priest won, the administration lost the battle. Pray for the priest who will probably be persecuted for his courage and charity.

  36. As for her being a “lifelong practicing Catholic,” that appears to be bunk. By her own published statements, she has been a practicing Buddhist for a long time. Based on what she has written of her time at Eliz. Seton High School, I’m guessing that some officials at the chancery of the Arch. of Washington had been aware of her and her situation in the recent past.

  37. Please tell us more about the priest’s interesting background.

  38. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I never said that. Don’t put words in my mouth.

  39. Part of the problem with calling on honoring the authority of the church is the confusion with the magesterial authority, those who teach in union with Peter and those who do not. When a episcopal leader uses their position to obfuscate the teachings of the church and fail to support those who do, where is the authority that we are to honor? We honor the office no matter what is being done, yet, do we honor the error? We are now in one of the worst times in recent church history because of the scandal of the sexual abuse and the coverups that have taken place. Do we honor the authority of the Episcopacy in this decision making process? honoring the authority of the bishops is used to cover up mistakes and keep people from justly questioning the abuse of power versus the rightful use of authority in the espiscopal office.

  40. This is not about “social graces”. This is about preventing an act of sacrilege toward the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Are we really going to defer the sanctity of the Sacrament to a bureaucratic procedure? Is it any wonder 75% of Catholics won’t bother receiving the Source of eternal life? The priest is under no obligation to follow a diocesan procedural directive when defilement of the Sacrament is an unintended consequence.

  41. If I understand correctly, then, it’s now considered “pastoral” to allow a person to commit mortal sin with the Holy Eucharist?

  42. It amazes me how both liberals and conservatives appreciate/disdain the Hierarchy/Bishops depending on whether or not their actions fit into “their” vision of “their” faith. As a more “liberal” Catholic, I liked this apology, though I’m often disdainful of the actions of our Bishops in recent years. “Conservative” Catholics, who are usually in lock step with whatever is coming out of the Chancery offices, at least in recent years, think in this case it’s ridiculous. All of us, liberals and conservatives, pick and choose. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves.

  43. There really seems to be a need for more reflection on the hundreds of Eucharistic miracles throughout the world. We have acquired a semi-protestant view of the Eucharist as being primarily a meal and a symbol of Jesus. This is profoundly wrongheaded. Read about the Miracle of Lanciano and see that scientists have confirmed that the wine was changed into human blood (same blood type as that on the Shroud of Turin), and the host was transformed into real human flesh. It’s Jesus himself folks, so act accordingly.

  44. Why can’t people here understand that the Church has rules in canon law about denying Communion to people. The apology was issued because the Archdiocese realized that the Church’s rules were not followed in this situation. Ed Peters showed this on an earlier thread, and it has been exhaustively explained.

    The fact that somebody is believed to be in a state of mortal sin is, of itself, not grounds for denying that person Communion (Canon 915, which governs the minister) (no matter how much you or he hate the particular sin). Being in a state of mortal sin is grounds for the person not to receive (Canon 916, which governs the communicant), but that’s a different issue.

    And it has nothing to do with whether the priest or the Archdiocese upholds the teaching of the Magisterium on the immorality of homosexual acts.

    Why can’t you people get that through your skulls?

  45. Yes, definitely “Leap Day” :-) Thanks for all your efforts with this blog, Deacon Greg. They are much appreciated.

  46. Sometimes, N, i think it’s just you’n’me. :)

    One tweak: had she approached PRIVATELY (a rare thing these days) the priest would have had more leeway, I think, to withhold, though it still would have been a close case, etc. But she approached publicly, and the law is clear in such cases on what looks like these facts. btw, I blogged on a bit more it here:

  47. I’ve yet to hear any commentary on how Canon 1752 applies to this situation.

    Don’t have a coronary Naturgesetz. It’s not as clear cut an issue as you seem to think. Can you let me know if a person who shoots someone in Church, but has never shot someone in Church or elsewhere before, and then presents themselves for communion can receive? Still waiting for an answer.

  48. So if the Rainbow Sash brigade shows up, the priest has to distribute Communion to them unless he can verify their obstinacy on a person-by-person basis?

  49. What about a person who shows up dressed up with Pentagrams and other paraphernalia of devil worship? Is the priest required to distribute Communion to this individual in spite of prudential judgment that indicates it is not being received worthily (e.g., with the purpose of desecrating)? Does canon law preclude any prudential judgment based on the circumstances at hand?

  50. Irish Spectre says:

    Why EVER would a man who takes the Catechism more seriously than he takes the Washington Post even consider pursuing the priesthood, where he seriously risks being tossed under the proverbial bus in for the offense of defending the faith in the face of paganistic political correctness?!!

    …and here I was, thinking that the Lavendar Mafia was fading into obscurity.

  51. Amen, Ellen. Do I get an apology for the priest who tore off his purple vestments one All Souls’ Day in an angry homily tirade about how all the deceased were in Heaven and it should be a day of rejoicing, who then said the rest of the Mass in his cassock? Do I get an apology for the choir director who cursed in front of my children? No–I’d have to be a “gay rights” agitator who waved her behavior in front of the priest’s nose right before the Mass in a rude, hostile, and perverse way and then got all upset because he didn’t ignore her petulance.


  52. Canon 1752 is speaking in generalities. There is no way of knowing in this specific situation what course of action would best serve the salvation of souls. It is certainly too facile to assume that denying the woman Communion without the pastoral preliminaries is going to promote her salvation. Indeed, I think it is reasonable to believe that the limitation of Canon 915 to persistent and obstinate cases — with the necessary pastoral preliminaries — is well calculated to make the denial conducive to salvation; whereas spur of the moment actions, insufficiently prepared, are more likely to lead to hardening of attitudes.

    IOW, to the extent that Can. 1752 applies, it leads to a narrow application of Can. 915, not an expansive one.

    As for your hypothesis of someone who shoots someone in Church, the person should be taken into custody and not be able to present himself for Communion. At any rate, it is so far removed from this case as to be useless as an analogy or even a reductio ad absurdum.

    IOW, if I say the person can be refused Communion, then I say, so what. That doesn’t give carte blanche for priests to become vigilantes.

  53. Exactly. Maybe someone will sue this poor guy in a church court and we’ll see if he violated canon law or note.

  54. Erin, it is great to see you here. I remember when you used to “guest host” for Rod Dreher on his “Crunchy Con” blog when he would be away (on a business trip or a vacation). Have always enjoyed your commentary, Erin. Are you actively writing/blogging anywhere? Let us know.

  55. Big ceremony with public display and someone gets humiliated at the end by the fellow who doesn’t do the diplomatic thing? Reminds me a lot of this, especially the last 7+ minutes.

  56. That is the end of freedom of religion. The Archdiocese shouldn’t have done it.

  57. I just can’t agree with the esteemed Ed Peters view on this. The strict application of 915 he urges would allow a whole host of abuses to take place on the Eucharist, some of which have been described in this combox, e.g., the person dressed with pentagrams coming up to communion, the person who commits a murder in church but has never done that before, etc. These are extreme examples, but they are examples nonetheless of how abused could go totally unchecked if “obstinancy” is going to be interpreted to require anything more than direct knowledge on the part of the priest of someone engaging in severely sinful activity with no intention of stopping.

  58. No, let us protest against it, and against the removal of Fr. Marcel. Let us also demand an apology, if they must apology for something done according to the Canon Law, the more they must apology for acting against the law. We can’t let it be in this way.

  59. P.S. let us start a petition action: solidarity for Fr. Marcel and ask the Archdiocese Washington for an apology for having done Fr. Marcel wrong.

  60. Left Coast Conservative says:

    If this priest is let go, is there any chance that he can be re-assigned to the Great Left Coast? We need good priests out here – but, it would be an “out of the frying pan, into the fire” kind of thing – abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia . . . definately not a friendly place.

  61. I dealt with the question on my c. 915 page. Do a little research.

  62. Neither can I, nor am I willing to. Church is more than just Canon Law.

  63. I just decided I am offended too. I am a traditional pre-V2 Catholic. I am offended the Archdiocese apologized for not desecrating the Body of Jesus Christ when presented yet another fine opportunity to do so. I am offended that Pelosi and Sibelius are not yet excommunicated. I am offended that Santorum pretends to be catholic while eagerly aspiring for a chance to kill multitudes of his brothers and sisters in the name of peace. But I am certain I am not nearly as offended as Jesus and His Mother must be. So I am going to pray a rosary this afternoon to give solace to my Holy Family. Won’t you all join me? After all, it’s Lent.

  64. What would have happened if, learning about the situation right before Mass, and seeing her approach to receive communion, he’d given her communion anyway?

    Then he’d be too scared to get in a car to go to the cemetery. Instead, he’d be looking for a priest to hear his confession of a mortal sin.

  65. I gotta say, the more we see “high ranking officials” in our Church doing things like this? The further away they are pushing Catholics.. I love the church BUT, I am REALLY starting to wonder if I am in the wrong place if the ‘Earthly powers that be’ can’t get it straight…The lay people are told they must be obedient and follow the laws of the Church yet those who make them can’t even get it right and you expect the lay people too?…I’m telling you, this is pushing people out the door and sadly, I’m hanging on by a thread lately..

  66. If Fr. Jobsworth at the chancery is ever made a bishop, he has his motto: “the customer’s always right”.

  67. “the priest has to distribute Communion to them”

    Yes. The most important thing is not to judge or offend anybody. The Archdiocese likes things quiet, they don’t want to ruffle anybodys feathers.

  68. Priests should announce before Communion the requirements for receiving. At Funerals, Weddings, Easter and Christmas (for the E and A Catholics), many are present who may not know they cannot receive the Eucharist. Priests should simply state the rules. Those who cannot receive can still come up with arms crossed and receive a blessing.

  69. correction…E and C Catholics.

  70. pls allow me to sign the protest-

  71. Thanks for the curt and condescending reply. I read your c. 915 page already. So a Catholic living an openly and professed homosexual lifestyle who presents for Communion can only be denied if she shows up with her lover or announces it on a billboard? Is it not enough for the priest, himself, to be availed of the situation?

    If a priest privately understands that an individual who presents for Communion also regularly participates in satanic rituals, is he also barred from using his own prudential judgment to deny Communion to that person, as well?

  72. If you got to the link Ed Peters provides, he actually explains the application of 915 to examples such as this one.

    “In the cases described, a suddenly-confronted minister has only the information (here, based on dress, but other examples such as offensive speech are not unknown) presented to him or her. Now, in a free society, deportment and dress are determined largely by individual choices; thus, demonstrative or provocative dress may be assumed to be expressive of one’s beliefs, and in many cases, the content of those beliefs can be assessed by adult Catholics as being inconsistent with ecclesial good order. Thus, in the few seconds a minister has to evaluate the individual message being sent by dress and demeanor, and recalling that all ministers are responsible for the protection of the Eucharist entrusted to them, the decision to withhold Holy Communion might well be the prudent choice. Applying to this cases of the extraordinary minister confronted by a man with an obscene tattoo, I believe that the minister was correct to direct the covering of the tattoo (which had the effect of making the symbol no longer a projection of the individual’s current attitudes) and that when such was done, Holy Communion could be licitly administered. Had the would-be recipient refused to cover the obscenity, I think the minister would have been justified in withholding Holy Communion.”

  73. jasper – u be right ! and washington [ wuerl] should never implement summorum pontificum – besides – who is that little white haired guy over there in that big rome cathedral church anyway- who does he think he is??

  74. from your computer to the eyes of God!

  75. Thanks, so naturgesetz and Dr. Peters himself are wrong.
    That was just what I’ve thought, the pastor must be allowed to judge quickly and according to his estimation of the situation.

  76. tee hee heee – but how do these guys get jobs as sheperds ?

  77. You are too quick to take offense. This is combox. Things get abbreviated. I pointed out where to look, to save you an enormous amount of time looking on your own. If you don’t like it, feel free to ignore my suggestions, but the answer is on the very page I linked to.

  78. it is an afront to the LOGOS only to us believers, Chris – which explains the other positions herewith.

  79. Chuckle chuckle. :)

  80. We could easily start a discussion about “blessings” during communion…

    I think this goes along with the “let’s not leave anyone out” line of thinking…we want to make sure everyone “gets something” from the Mass. We need to leave this one for another time!

  81. Dr. Peters,
    Can you clarify why you’re saying that in this case the priest was wrong to enforce the canon rule? You said regarding the rule, “others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” If the woman told the priest that she was living with “her lover”, then she’s clearly persevering in manifest grave sin, correct? I don’t understand what the priest did wrong. It seems to me this priest did absolutely the right thing and I find it infuriating that the Archdiocese is not defending him, but rather is apologizing that the Eucharist was not permitted to be received by someone obviously rejecting Church teaching. Does anyone have our priests’ backs?

  82. Richard Johnson says:

    Unfortunately, cognitive dissonance seems to be the rule of the day here. In spite of being shown from Canon law, by an expert in said law, that the priest did not follow Canon law in his behavior at the funeral, there are *still* those who insist that the priest was right. Why? Clearly they place their understanding and beliefs ahead of the teachings/rules of the Church, the very same thing they accuse liberals of doing.

    Thus they become that which they hate.

  83. Look back up a few comments. The canon (915) is very specific in the two things that must be present … if both aren’t there, then communion can’t be refused. This priest “jumped the gun” and didn’t ensure 915 was followed. When our leaders can’t follow the rules, an apology isn’t that farfetched an idea. Removing the priest — bad idea; he needs some re-training though by a competent canon lawyer.

  84. Yes I will too.

  85. Chris Sullivan says:

    On this issue Ed Peters is absolutely correct.

    The priest did not follow Canon Law in denying Holy Communion.

    Even priests sometimes make bad decisions on the spur of the moment, especially when they are not feeling well.

    I think the archdiocese did very well to apologize. Someone has to uphold Canon Law and protect the good name of the Church and Washington did it well.

    God Bless

  86. An apology for NOT giving the body of Christ to someone who is clearly NOT in communion with the Catholic Church? So now Rev. Knestout is going to confess…that he did what? Apologies are the secular world’s smug cold comfort, and it’s pathetic to see a church authority falling for this garbage. And then this character won’t be satisfied until Guarnizo is removed? So what if this character stays dissatisfied ? She’s not Catholic, anyway.

  87. P.S. I meant that if Rev. Knestout is apologizing for something, then he ought to confess it. So what’s he confessing? I’m giving up these controversial articles. They push all my buttons.

  88. Going off at a tangent:
    ‘a celebration of … mother’s life …’[?], quote from ‘a high ranking official’ .
    Surely this was a requiem mass – for the repose of the soul of the deceased? More mixed messages!

  89. Don’t worry, mortal men make stupid decisions every day, it’s only the Magisterium of the Church that matters here. Ignore the morons. Woe to the stupid idiots. I love the Woes, here’s a good one:

    29“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31“So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32“Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

  90. 1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. 5“But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. 6“They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. 8“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11“But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

  91. This is not about homosexuality, it’s a matter of TIME and PLACE, regardless of the suspected sin at issue.

    And in that regard, given the publicity this matter has garnered, I hazard a guess that this is causing more “scandal” to the faithful than most of the things that get condemned under that label.

    Can’t there be a course in Seminary (with a continuing education requirement) teaching clergy not to be assholes? It really makes it difficult for those of us trying to hang onto our faith to defend it to others.

  92. George Mason says:

    The “I was sad and you made me feel bad” argument works all the time.

    Imagine if the Pharisees had used it against Jesus.

  93. Clare Krishan says:

    re: What about a person who shows up dressed up with Pentagrams and other paraphernalia of devil worship? Ive been at mass in rural tennessee where you could see the whole shebang on the teenager’s t-shirt under his acolyte surplus ALL THROUGH MASS, and during sommunion, I offered it up (certainly didn’t make an issue of it, with the pastor or any one else at my brother and sister in law’s church, they’re big boys and girls they get to deal with t-shirt etiquette themselves, me I’d had the kid take the offerding article off turn it inside out and put it back on again and continue as before, but that’s the catechist-grand mom in me speaking, not the holy-roller (I can be one of those too but not in these clear cut cases, when the hierarchy have spoken, humility and prayers for the vincibly ignorant – the priest included – are warranted).

  94. Anglican Peggy says:

    I am not sure anyone else picked up on this part,
    “Johnson called the letter “comforting” and said she greatly appreciates the apology. But, she added, “I will not be satisfied” until Guarnizo is removed.”
    But I did because it has been a huge concern of mine lately, how we have come to the point where it isnt enough to live and let live. It isnt enough for someone to say sorry. It isnt enough for someone to be reprimanded or corrected. No, the only thing that will “satisfy” is vengence. The only thing that will satisfy is for the person who injured you to be humiliated, ruined, tossed out from their position or forced to close down their business.

    Was it always like this? Seriously. It is one thing to protest government discrimination, but where did the idea come from that the private citizen(s) has any right or obligation to police the speech/beliefs of other private citizens? We apparently have the right to believe what we believe but if we dare to express that, then our own fellow citizens will hound us from society into the wilderness and won’t even bat an eyelash of remorse. They see it as their holy duty to punish others for their politically incorrect beliefs or in this case actions.

    It gives me a sick feeling to anticipate the removal of the priest from his position. If he made an error then shouldn’t some reprimand and correction be enough? When will the same happen to you or to me?

  95. Clare Krishan says:

    oops communion, sorry for any offense to the feignt-hearted

  96. Denying communion in a mass in front of everyone is a very public event and loud statement. I would say it was a public condemnation. ( I defer to more expert folks but that is sure what it looks like to the average schmo)

    Anyone here think they know more about and understand the Eucharist and are better at giving direction on this very sensitive issue than the Church via cannon law and the ordinary of the diocese?

    Sometimes church rules look like greek but as Mr Peter’s has described it the apparent intent is to give clear guidance so folks don’t make up their own rules. And I will let him speak but it also appears the Church is more concerned about someone being denied communion wrongly – even if that means sometimes someone who – a the end of the proscribed process would be asked not to come to communion, received communion prior the the end of the process.

  97. Clare Krishan says:

    Count me in.
    Praying in PA.

  98. I tried to reply once, Mark–hope this isn’t a duplicate! Anyway–for my personal blog, just click my name. :)

  99. Clare Krishan says:

    No Amy “Those who cannot receive can still come up with arms crossed and receive a blessing.” they can’t. That’s not canonically approved rubric. They can IF the concelebrant offers it. I’ve been with my husband at busy masses in the ye-olde-theatre-in-the-rounde sanctuaries where everyone has to process in line in circles when even the crossed arms weren’t enough and I had to yank cross-my-heart-husband out from under a suspended host – uncomfortable for him, the priest, me and everyone else who witnessed. Such liberality isn’t an entitlement, nor actually a good idea. But it would be a good idea for the priests to prayerfully remind themselves that the flock to whom they minister may not all (yet) be practicing Catholics, and pray and preach that way, cor ad cor loquitur for the hope in the happy day when the soul is moved to approach the altar, deo gratias. Happy he who is called to the Supper of the Lamb – He does the bidding, never let that reality escape us!

  100. I just wanted to make a simple comment, and will not be coming back to review any replies, so please don’t feel the need to leave one.

    Regardless of the circumstances that took place and that led to this news story – it is the comments made by the people on this site, and the general attitude displayed throughout the catholic church, that made me leave the church. So much of your comments, and overwhelming view of “outsiders”, displays more hate and disgrace than those you speak out against, and is far from how you are supposed to be acting on behalf of God.

    And I fully expect someone to provide the customary response of “the church is better without you” or something hateful, mean, or in the word of the lord, but again, save yourself the time. I don’t care and won’t be reviewing any responses.

  101. Clare Krishan says:

    She may have an adjunct ministry in mind“I will not be satisfied” until Guarnizo is removed.” Fr Marcel is a prominent pro-life activist at a local late-term abortionist’s clinic. But that would be idle speculation on my part (that she was out “to get him” on the day of her mother’s funeral, and I honestly don’t think I can square that opinion with the most charitable interpretation of her actions, which I am obliged to do as Catholic who doesn’t want to enter the near occasion of sin myself).


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