In the e-mail: “I wanted you to know there is more to this story…”

A reader from Maryland writes about the never-ending communion controversy there:

I just wanted to let you know that there is a lot more to this story than has been published. I was in a meeting with Fr Marcel and heard the whole story. The woman in question brought her lesbian partner into the vesting sacristy just before the funeral Mass and made sure to introduce her partner to Fr Marcel, introducing her as her ‘lover’. He told her then that she should not present herself for Communion. I have been to many Masses said by Father Marcel and he is a good and holy priest. He speaks very softly when giving out Holy Communion, almost whispering “Corpus Christi” — and did not publicly denounce her but rather said in a whisper that he could not give her Holy Communion. He did feel sick at the end of Mass and made sure to have a replacement priest accompany the body and family to the cemetery.

Father Marcel has a very active role in the very public and weekly vigils at Carhart’s late term abortion clinic in Germantown. He has been a staunch and vociferous defender of life. It is my belief that this is a calculated attempt to discredit him.  (Remember – same sex marriage will be signed into law this week in Maryland.) ‘Catholics for Equality’ and other gay groups are feeling pretty strong right now.  Fr Marcel is their enemy because he speaks the truth and does not back down…

I am telling you all this because Fr Marcel cannot speak for himself right now. And because he at the very least deserves the benefit of the doubt from you and Ed Peters and others who do not know all the facts. Please use this information to bring some balance to the discussion. And please pray for our bishops who must defend their priests from these attacks!

As I noted here, Barbara Johnson is telling a different version to the press of how the priest found out about her.

Stay tuned.

Comments are now closed


  1. Arranging for your mother to die so you can be denied Communion at her funeral Mass after marching in and introducing your partner to the priest as your lover is a pretty extreme example of a “calculated attack to discredit” a priest. There’s a lot of calculating going on around this story, but I doubt that was the intent.

    And was it mentioned anywhere that this is an EF parish? Otherwise, why is Fr Marcel “whispering Corpus Christi” when he gives Communion?

  2. Richard Johnson says:

    Interesting. An unnamed individual claims to have been party to a meeting with the priest and “heard the whole story”. Is this individual willing to go on the record as others in the story have (Ms. Johnson, other family members, the Archdiocese)? If so then he/she should be up front about it so his/her story can receive the same scrutiny as Ms. Johnson’s. If this anonymous person is unwilling to go on the record then we have no way to verify the story.

  3. The point is – if the priest did, indeed, handle the incident quietly (as the correspondent indicates – that is, withholding the Eucharist, but in as quiet a way as possible)…who is responsible for making it known? Did the priest go to the press?

    So, so very tired of all of this.

  4. My only question would be why the Archdiocese would have come out with their statement if the reader’s story (as quoted in this blog) is accurate. I’m assuming the Archdiocese, before it made its statement, spoke with Fr. Marcel and he would have had his chance at that time to explain his actions. I’m fairly confident that the Archdiocese would have mentioned some of these facts in their statement if they had been presented to them by Fr. Marcel.

    Also, what’s with the “corpus Christi”?

  5. I checked the Archdiocesan website, and it turns out that the parish does have an EF Mass on Sundays at 1:30.

    But —
    We are not informed that this was an EF funeral.
    The formula for administering Communion pre-Vat II wasn’t “Corpus Christi.” It was, “Corpus Domini Nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam æternam. Amen”

  6. “Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord.”

    God bless you Father Marcel!

  7. There is an urgent need for several things to happen.

    1. Given the existence of multiple versions of what happened, and the fact that the differences touch on very important issues, an investigation needs to be ordered with everyone involved asked to give their version of events in writing.

    2. Irrespective of the outcome of the investigation this woman needs to be told to refrain from taking communion until she gets right with God and the church.

    3. People need to suspend judgment and remember that this is Lent. A great many of the posts I have read on this topic have moved into the realm of speculation, gossip and detraction.

  8. When my father died rather suddenly, I had been alienated from the Catholic Church
    for many reasons. I knew enough, however, in spite of my stupor secondary to the incalulable loss to seek out a priest for confession. Monsignor, God rest his soul as
    he himself is being buried tomorrow with a funeral Mass being offered by Cardinal Dolan, graciously and patiently entertained my request.

    Having lost my mother just a few months later, that entire year, pretty much was a washout. She went into her final coma very early on Christmas morning that year.

    I intimately understand and empathize with the lady in this circumstance who lost her mother. May God rest her soul and may all her family find comfort in her trials on
    this earth

  9. Darn mobile internet!

    ….finally being completed.

    Everyone involved could use some mercy.


  10. The priest has done his duty. The lesbian woman, if raised as a Catholic, should have known that she couldn’t go to the communion. If I haven’t confessed beforehand, I also refrain from the communion and what is specially hurting in her case.

    She is just trying to stir up trouble, it seems. I have no sympathy for these people. If she can’t tyrannize the others into acting according to her wish, she will play the victim card. Disgusting.

  11. Sue from Buffalo says:

    Sounds like someone took advantage of a crisis to make a point and a dig at the Catholic Church. I lost both my parents within a year and the year in between was no picnic. I understand what it’s like. That daughter, out of respect for her mother, should have refrained from Communion.

  12. P.S. I was in the morning Mass in our town, a Muslim politician attended a Requiem Mass for his colleague. He didn’t go to the communion but he has shown respect to his diseased colleague. He was not “hurt”, and demanding “equality”. Why can’t “liberal” westerners be as civilized as this gentleman?

  13. A priest can celebrate or incorporate Latin at any time in the OF.
    Question for the gripers: according to her own statements, is Ms Johnson living in objective sin or not? Protecting her from eating and drinking her own condemnation (See Corinthians) is a spiritual act of mercy.

  14. There are always two sides to the story. Glad the priest got his side out. To be frank with all the instant media avalanche, it just had all the hallmarks of a made for TV LGBT PR movie.

  15. Yeah, I think it was designed to be on the Lifetime LGBT channel. See where rushing to judgment gets us. Will anyone contend that 915 still required this priest to give her communion?

  16. I believe this version of the events. It makes more sense, and from yesterday’s article you could sense the inherent bias of the writer. I’m glad this has been straightened out.

  17. All of my comments on events as reported in the media are based on the media reports. That’s SOP, and yes, I know reports, and corrections of reports, might be inaccurate. People have to read with certain parameters in mind.

  18. If you noticed, the Johnson family seem to be trying to reduce the noise level on this. Maybe, just maybe, when all of the facts do come out, it will be seen that they really did not tell the entire truth.

    Also, it is possible that the person named herself to Deacon Greg but asked to remain anon.

  19. The priest did not. it was Ms. Johnson and her friends who posted this on blogs, etc.

  20. This is exactly correct. I have been to events at other churches and synagogues. I stand when they stand, I sit when they sit, etc. I do not take their “communion” I do not make a fuss when they say things I do not agree with.

  21. ron chandonia says:

    After reading the breathless denunciations of the priest in the other thread, I could not help but think that the negative publicity about the incident–if not the actual scenario itself–must have taken some planning. In particular, I was stuck by the disingenousness of this comment by the woman’s brother in the original report:

    “We’re not in this to Catholic-bash. That’s the farthest thing from our minds. We just want the public square to have knowledge of what this priest did.”

    No way. The only possible reason for sharing the story with “the public square” was to bring hurtful publicity on the Church, particularly to stir up public sentiment against the Church’s supposed failure of compassion in opposing the gay rights agenda.

  22. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It’s not a matter of “arranging for your mother to die.” It’s a matter of inserting your own drama into your mother’s funeral.

    Can you honestly tell me that you’ve never seen or heard anyone inserting their issues into an important family occasion? You never hear all about the stuff that happened before you were born, at the wedding or funeral of someone you never knew, which explains why your second cousin fifth removed isn’t going to be allowed anywhere near the ambo?

    Under the emotional pressure of grief, there’s a tendency for some people to go looking for a fight, just like others want comfort and still others want to be left alone. Showing up in the sacristy with someone you introduce as your lover (lesbian or otherwise) is pretty clearly looking for a fight. Clearly it would be more healthy to go looking for a bar full of brawlers, or to have your fight with God without dragging anybody else into it, but there you go.

  23. It will be coming soon to the Oxygen channel. I can see the dramatic confrontation now. “This is my lover, Father.” And the priest, suitably portrayed as a Darth Vader type character, recoiling in horror, “you cannot take communion!” Maybe even a scuffle ensues.

  24. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Now, whether or not this specific story is true, I can’t tell you. But does crazy stuff like this happen at church funerals? Oh, heck yes. Priests routinely get somebody picking a fight with the Church’s moral stands, history, and what the Templars are doing with the UFO aliens. It doesn’t matter if they’re angry Catholics, or angry non-Catholics; priests are a target for people’s issues. (This is part of why, in the old days, there were such rigid etiquette rules at funerals — to prevent this unfocused emotional bombing of bystanders.)

    That said, it’s possible that the priest didn’t respond well, because funerals are almost as stressful for the folks working them as the ones who attend them.

  25. I can’t blog, or even combox (to invent a verb), on every interesting topic, and when it’s a topic I’ve written on extensively already, I feel okay in telling people to read what I’ve already written if they want to understand certain crucial issues. So, if you want a sense of what REALLY figures in denial of holy Communion cases, check out this page:, and, if you want, scroll to near the bottom where three hypotheticals are analyzed.

  26. ron chandonia says:

    Sorry, I should have closed the italics after the quote I cited. (Sure wish this system had an EDIT button!)

  27. Call me a congregationalist, but this is one more reason not to look to receive communion outside one’s parish. (Didn’t say can’t. Said shouldn’t.) Fewer people would see it as their innate right to be part of the spectacle if fewer people were part of the spectacle. Perhaps the man who when questioned on refusing communion retorts, “Does it look like I’m going to die?” can be one extreme avoided. The other extreme avoided could be the businessman who logs communion over 40,000 miles. Perhaps people who commune weekly (or daily) already could make a habit out of not communing at weddings and funerals. Claim to have drank orange juice. Claim to want the interminable thing to end. Claim to have had impure thoughts about aisle runner. Whatever works for you. When current theology treats mass as a communion dispensary, it is little shock that people treat it that way. Of course it is easier to prattle about On Eagles Wings giving people a false assurance of heaven than to criticize the actual practice of nearly everyone at mass enjoying the heavenly feast.

    As to the actual issue at hand, leniency should generally be given to the one who doesn’t make the spectacle. In this case, the woman decided to make a spectacle in the media. On the other hand, the priest or deacon is often the one making the spectacle when it comes to a politician. When the typical weekly Catholic receives communion a conservative 2000 times in a lifetime, the one time it doesn’t occur shouldn’t be a headline. A priest or deacon should be able to make an error in judgment or heaven forfend a mistake once in his lifetime – not claiming this is an instance of one – without it becoming a federal case. When there is an error in Last Rites, then call the media.

  28. Okay, MZ, you’re a congregationalist. I know of no tradition in the Church limiting one’s right to approach holy Communion based on geography. Your comments re the hyperbole that has visited this priest are, however, well placed I think.

  29. No, funerals aren’t the best of times to adjudicate disputes. But if the dispute happens at a funeral, it is where it needs to be addressed. There are some things worth indulging. Eulogies I think are one of those. Open communion, which is common at a lot of funerals and weddings, is not worth indulging. I don’t particularly like the idea of refusing communion, but I don’t see the need to indulge it.

  30. In fairness, there aren’t a whole lot of people who didn’t have personal priests who traveled further than their diocese in their lifetime prior to 1800. Only after the 1900s did it become common.

  31. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:


    Thank you for the very helpful link. I recall many years ago being told by an EME that she had given communion recently to a young man at a funeral who was dressed like a warlock. She told me that she was told that she was not permitted to refuse anyone who approached, which to me seemed absurd. I think the point was clarified for her later when pronouncements on the Rainbow Sash issue were made.

    Can you offer further clarification on the issue of what makes a sin “manifest?”

  32. “The formula for administering Communion pre-Vat II” is irrelevant. The present formula, in the Ordinary Form, is “Corpus Christi”. The English translation is “The Body of Christ”. As AnneG noted in her reply to Scout, it is not improper to incorporate Latin in an Ordinary Form Mass in the vernacular. We see it quite often with the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei (likewise, the Greek Kyrie).

    From the Missale Romanum:

    134.Postea accipit patenam vel pyxidem, accedit ad communicandos,et hostiam parum elevatam unicuique eorum ostendit, dicens:
    Corpus Christi.
    Communicandus respondet:

    The English translation:

    134. After this, he takes the paten or ciborium and approaches the communicants. The Priest raises a host slightly and shows it to each of the communicants, saying:
    The Body of Christ.
    The communicant replies:

  33. I could not agree more about giving Fr. Marcel the benefit of the doubt. I would have to raise the following questions:
    1- Did she say lover? In my experience, few in the LGBT community use that term. The terms partner and life partner are part of the parlance. While I am no expert, I have to say, that would date the remark in a way that makes me think it is highly improbable that it was said that way.

    2- In my experience in funeral ministry and as a church employee, it is highly unusual for the presiding priest to not have met the family of the deceased prior to the funeral. It just makes me curious about the circumstances, but anything is possible.

    3- Back to point number 1… If the term lover were used, which I do find hard to believe, that is one thing. However, even if she did say partner, it is an assumption about exactly what that means. Do we really know that the women are sexually involved?

    If the priest knew that another child of the deceased were living with their opposite sex partner, would they be denied communion as well?

  34. Ever heard the term from the liberal Alinsky crowd “never let a crisis go to waste.” I have seen the gay activist do just about anything they can to attack the Catholic Church. Seeing a gay person with everything going on in Maryland over the special rights for gay choice debate do something like this around their mom’s funeral would not surprise me. making sure you took your “partner” to the priest who is known for speaking out and probably did so against legalizing gay special rights would seem extreme. If they simply went to the mass and came forward for Eucharist, none of this would have happened. That she is not accepting the massive apology of the diocese and demanding the priest be removed smells funny to me. Whch priest will be next? We are in a war for religous liberty and freedom of speech and the gay crowd wants both silenced if it is not singing aprroval of the homosexual lifestyle, especially by the Catholic Church and Her clergy.

  35. Please!!! The person who wrote “I wanted you to know there is more to this story…” is NOT telling the truth – the email is fiction. Ask any of the many many people who attended. The incident was hurtful enough and now becomes more hurtful when lies are told on behalf of a misguided priest. It breaks my heart for all involved.

  36. Really? And we know this because “cynda” now says so?

    I am assuming that DcnGK had some personal knowledge of the writer he featured above, but chose to hold back ID (why, well, who knows, various reasons maybe). Am I wrong in that assumption?

  37. Check the sources I cite, there is too much for me to lay it out again here. And that EME was misinformed, poor lady.

  38. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    Will do. Thanks.

  39. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Ed …

    The person who wrote asked not to be identified.

    The e-mail came from someone I’ve corresponded with in the past. While I have no reason to think the writer isn’t being truthful, I will add that this is just one more account of what happened — and it does differ from other versions we’ve read in the media. Healthy skepticism toward all sides may be prudent.

    It remains to be seen if the differing accounts will ever be reconciled, or if we’ll ever know the full story. Roshomon, anyone?

    Dcn. G.

  40. Richard Johnson says:

    If that be the case, would not the best course of action be to trust those closest to the matter…the Archdiocese officials?

  41. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I’d say so, yes.

  42. LOL!

  43. You mean the other homosexuals at the funereal ?

  44. Gentlemen, I guess i never expected anyone to comment on my post. I am very new to blogs. But do want you to know that i certainly dont expect anyone to believe something just because i said so. But i respectfully point out that there were many people in attendance who can bear witness.

    I lost my beautiful husband a few months ago and do not have adequate words to explain how disorienting it is to lose some one so very important. I can say that i have never felt so raw or so vulnerable. It is the reason i ventured here. When you are feeling that overwhelming emotion it helps to know that the love and compassion of God and his children are there for you.

    I trust the Archdiocese who apologized.

  45. Phil from Silver spring, MD says:

    I will also add that I live and work in this area. It is unfortunate what faithful Catholics have to suffer in the hands of a militant progressive state. There seem to be change agents planting themselves in every parish hoping to effect any sort of progressive change.

    It doesn’t help that the Archbishop is pressured by more outside groups to punish than faithful.

    This priest in question is a very measured priest. If you listen to him speak and watch his actions, he is methodical and calculated. He is not impulsive nor prideful. It would not be in his character to refuse Holy Communion to one he hasn’t previously spoken to. I wasn’t there, so I cannot go further–it just reminds me of the Doug Kmeic show all over again.

    If the priest chooses obedience as his response to all of this, we will know implicitly that he is innocent.

  46. Left Coast Conservative says:

    I would have a tendency to err on the side of the priest given my experience with Catholic funerals and the rights of the LG groups. The brother speaking out reminds me of one of our relatives who supported the lifestyle while the remainder of the family did not – and the disrespect for the Mass, the Eucharist and the faith was appalling.
    There is much more to this story than is being reported – fortunately our Father in heaven knows the details and in His mercy will give comfort to the wounded. Pray for the priest involved. Pray that the brother and sister may return to a fullness of the faith. Pray that the leaders in our church (schools, church, social service) may embrace the Truth and boldly proclaim the salvation story.

  47. Anthony Esolen says:

    Aside from the theological considerations — that, by Catholic understanding, a priest who allows someone unrepentant of mortal sin to receive communion is assisting a public scandal and is encouraging the person to consume the Body of Christ to his or her own condemnation — where is the human consideration for the priest? This woman knew well that she would at the very least put Father Marcel in a terrible position. She didn’t care. It’s as if I were to say to a Rabbi, “Sir, I know you’re praying Kaddish now, but would you mind if I ate my ham and cheese sandwich?” Why would a decent person do that to somebody? Why would a decent person insist on bringing a rifle to a Quaker funeral? But no, for people whose sins are sexual, everything is all about them.

  48. John Phipps says:

    Monsignor Mike Fisher is Vicar for Clergy for the Archdiocese. I would put my faith in Fr Mike who was promoted to his current post from Pastor of this same parish where he was a wonderful and loved priests and is missed. I also hope Fr Barry can manage expectations until this blows over. St John Neumann is a large and diverse parish and I really haven’t heard anything from parishioners through the KofC grapevine to indicate any problems there. Pray for peace and lower blood pressure.

  49. It would seem that the real problem is the ambivilance of the hierarchy to get on the same page regarding Canon 951! Is it going to be enforced…or rescinded.
    To simply make the statement the Archdiocese gave seems to leave the priest
    who truly reverences the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus and would give his life
    to protect in an untenable position when confronted as this woman clearly did.
    She had her answer before she went to receive how Father M. would treat her
    if she came before him at Communion time. Clearly, she and the Archdiocese
    both are responsible for placing reverent priests between a “rock and a hard place”
    in situations like this.


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