Maryland priest denies communion to lesbian at funeral — UPDATED


It’s been an extremely difficult week for Barbara Johnson — perhaps the most difficult week of her life.

It all started on Saturday at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, where friends and family had gathered to say goodbye to Barbara’s mother, who died last week after a brief illness.

Just a few minutes before the funeral began, Father Marcel Guarnizo, who was presiding over the service, apparently learned that Barbara was involved in a romantic relationship with another woman.

A lifelong Catholic and former Catholic school teacher, Barbara says she hadn’t even considered that her sexual orientation would be a problem with Father Marcel until she stepped forward to take communion.

“He said, ‘I can not give you communion because you live with a woman,” Barbara says.

Though shaken by Father Marcel’s actions, Barbara says she tried to compose herself to give her mother the dignified funeral she deserved.  So a few minutes later, Barbara began her eulogy.

“At which time Father Marcel left the altar and didn’t return until I finished my eulogy,” Barbara says.

According to Barbara, things got even worse, because after first refusing to give her communion, and then walking off the altar when Barbara was giving her eulogy, Father Marcel refused to go with Barbara’s mother’s body to the cemetery in Aspen Hill. Barbara says she was told that Father Marcel had suddenly become ill.

In a written statement, the Archdiocese of Washington conceded that Father Marcel had acted improperly, saying, “Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.”

Read more.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has now picked up the story:

Messages left for [Father] Guarnizo were not immediately returned, and archdiocesan officials declined to answer questions about what actually happened.

“In matters of faith and morals, the Church has the responsibility of teaching and of bringing the light of the Gospel message to the circumstances of our day,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.”

[Larry] Johnson [brother of the woman denied communion] said his parents were lifelong churchgoers, that the four children attended Catholic schools, that his sister taught at Catholic schools, and that neither he nor his sister see this as a reason to criticize the church more broadly.

“We agreed this is not a discussion about gay rights, or about the teachings of the Catholic Church,” he said. “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.”

UPDATE II: The WaPo has also interviewed the woman who was denied communion, who described how the priest learned the news:

Johnson said that her partner of 20 years had been helping the family at the church earlier when the priest asked who she was. “And she said, ‘I’m her partner,’ ” Johnson recalled.

When Guarnizo covered the wine and wafers with his hand during Communion, Johnson stood there for a moment, thinking he would change his mind, she said. “I just stood there, in shock. I was grieving, crying,” she said. “My mother’s body was behind me, and all I wanted to do was provide for her, and the final thing was to make a beautiful funeral, and here I was letting her down because there was a scene.”

That seems at odds with a commenter here who wrote:

I happen to know “First hand” that Barbara went into the sacristy before the mass and introduced herself as a lesbian in an active lesbian relationship… introducing her partner as “her lover” (her words). She left the sacristy before Fr. could have the “private discussion” you talk about. Barbaras “Lover” blocked his way out of the sacristy when he attempted to speak with her further.

Stay tuned.  I don’t think this story is over yet.

UPDATE III: Canon lawyer Ed Peters — a frequent commenter on this post — has weighed in on 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.


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  1. A sad situation which I guess could have been handled better by the priest. But I found this hard to believe:
    “A lifelong Catholic and former Catholic school teacher, Barbara says she hadn’t even considered that her sexual orientation would be a problem with Father Marcel until she stepped forward to take communion.”

    She didn’t consider her sexuality to be a problem and she was a life long Catholic, and a Catholic school teacher no less? I don’t think so.

  2. He seems to have gone too far. However, if her behavior was public knowledge AND contradicted the public teaching of the Catholic Church, I am glad he refused her communion. She certainly should have and could have apprised the good priest if her circumstances were contrary to Church teachings.

    It is her responsibility to behave appropriately. If her relationship was contrary to Church teaching, she brought this on herself.


  3. There aren’t supposed to be eulogies at Catholic funerals.

  4. Many: You have a big point; “life long Catholic and Catholic school teacher”. I totally agree with you, could have been handled better, but where do you draw the line? Homosexual relations and unions are celebrated, promoted, canonized by the secular culture; that does not mean they need to be accepted by the Church. I think the pries should have talked to the lady before the Mass and asked her to refrain. As for the eulogy, I though eulogies were not permitted at mass. Yes, a sad situation but one that will become more and more common.

  5. So right Mr. Peters, but unfortunately in practice, they happen all the time.

  6. Perhaps the story is incomplete, but as told there are many troubling aspects. First, I am troubled that Deacon would withhold communion on the basis of something he just heard but had not had time to confirm and discuss his understanding of the facts with the daughter, Ms. Johnson. Withholding communion is intended to caution a person of the spiritual peril they are in and induce them to reform their lives. Without having talked with Ms. Johnson, this intended effect is almost impossible to achieve and very likely to have a contrary affect – driving the person away from God, instead of encourage her to restore that relationship.

    Second, I am troubled that Ms. Johnson understood the issue to be sexual orientation, instead of a lack of chastity. The Church has great love and sympathy for those who struggle with same-sex attraction, as she does for all of us who struggle with a variety of sinful desires. The ministry of Courage is just one expression of this love and concern. Yet, this message was not delivered since there was no time taken to talk and to listen.

    Finally, I understand the possible concern that the Deacon may have had regarding scandal that can arise when a “public sinner” is offered communion. I know I would be troubled by seeing communion offered to someone who was married but known throughout the community to be living with another person. That said, there seems to be little indication that was the case in this situation. Even if this was the case, I tend to think the risk of unjustly denying communion to a woman at the funeral of her mother would outweigh the risk of scandalizing the faithful at this particular gathering.

    A very sad story for all concerned.

  7. We are looking at this all wrong.

    If, as Barbara Johnson says that she is a “lifelong Catholic,” then she should have known that her relationship is sinful, that she was not in a state of grace, and SHOULD NOT have presented herself before the priest for Holy Communion.

    The blame here is not on the priest, but on Barbara Johnson.

    Now, the priest knows that she is living this immoral lifestyle and has to make a decision. Give her Holy Communion and himself commit a sin (and the theologians out there will probably correct me) or do what is correct.

    Cardinal Wuerl has thrown this priest under the bus. Once again, he is more worried about the political and public relations damage, than about the mission of the Church.

    Many of you will take me to task for this. Please feel free.

    I stand by what I have said.

  8. Ad informationem: “Denial of Communion to a lesbian couple” (2007),

  9. Jesus said to the woman at the well.
    I do not condemn you…

  10. Karl you said “I am glad he refused her communion” which seems to say you are glad Father Marcel Guarnizo denied her the healing love of Jesus Christ through reception of the Holy Eucharist. In suddenly becoming ill, Father Marcel Guarnizo also denied Barbara’s mother the final dignity of a Christian burial. It would appear to me that he, and you are casting stones, and contrary to church teachings, being “glad” about this is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

  11. WashingtonCatholic raises a good point. Is it a sin for a priest to distribute communion to someone he knows is engaging in behavior that is, objectively, gravely sinful? If so the priest had good grounds to refrain, as embarrassing and painful as the situation was. There was saint once who said “I’d rather die than sin” and he may have been within his rights to refuse.

  12. God have mercy. I am disgusted by this news and by many of these comments. Pace to the esteemed Mr. Peters and his link, but that is a bishop and that is another story. A priest at a funeral is a different matter.

    And yes Mr. Peters is correct about the eulogies, but they do happen. That the priest walked off the altar, if that is indeed what happened, that is awful too.

    God help us all. I mean, did anyone read or listen to yesterday’s Gospel? It is not an unfamiliar one. The least of these indeed.

  13. She did say that the “eulogy” came after communion. I thought family were allowed to say a few words after the final blessing. Is that accurate, Mr. Peters?

  14. Thank you Fran.

  15. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    In the Byzantine East the more traditional practice is to have a Divine Liturgy for the funeral of a bishop or priest, but not for a deacon or a layperson. (Although I have served and concelebrated at several of them.)

    Here is the text for the Funeral Service:

    I’m unclear why a Funeral Mass is viewed as necessary, especially given the fact that it is generally quite an ecumenical and even interreligious affair, which creates all sorts of issues as far as Holy Communion is concerned (who goes, who doesn’t, who shouldn’t, etc etc). If family and friends want to have a Memorial Mass it can be celebrated later.

    And the wake is definitely more of a fitting place for a eulogy.

  16. Actually, no.

    You’re thinking of the woman caught in the very act of adultery, where Jesus told her, “Sin no more”.

    The woman at the well had her whole life laid out to her by Jesus, “You are right in saying you have no husband. ACtually, you have had five husbands and the one you currently live with is not your husband.”

  17. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If the story is accurate, Rev. Guarnizo learned of the situation before the funeral began. Even with only minutes available, he could have and should have addressed it then instead of essentially ambushing the woman in the communion line. Was he trying to publicly make a point? By leaving the sanctuary and refusing to go to the cemetery it would appear he was. Did he act appropriately? Not in my book.

    What was gained and what was lost?

    The deceased’s daughter said “the damage done, both to her family and to her mother’s memory, could never be repaired.” In the eyes of the family and possibly the community as well, I think she has a point. Did the priest make his point? Obviously to his satisfaction he did. Was it necessary? Based on the Archdiocese’s statement it wasn’t. Was it God’s point? I don’t think so.

    The words forgiveness and reconciliation and “hate the sin but love the sinner” are running around in my head. I don’t count this priest a great example of any of these, and I would suggest further that those who might be timidly trying to come back to the Church after being ‘away’ for a while are easily driven further away and almost out of reach by foolish actions such as this. I deal with people in this frightened, marginalized position all the time. You can’t get them to listen to even the best advise of you’re wagging your finger in their face and crying “Sinner!”

    Who among us is not a sinner in need of God’s love?

  18. Ike,

    Paul taught that those who receive the Eucharist unworthily eat and drink condemnation upon themselves. That’s the point here. It is a loving act to confront those in an obstinately sinful lifestyle and to let them know that their lifestyle places them at odds with Jesus, that they are NOT in holy communion with Him.

    We forget Saint Paul’s tough words:

    “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    It is the legions of priests who go along to get along who are the problem. I’ll take it a step further…

    Who is the pastor of the Catholic school who employs an openly practicing lesbian? We give witness by our lifestyle, and cohabiting heterosexuals or openly gay and lesbian faculty tear at the witness a Catholic school should be giving to the sacrament of marriage.

    I’ll give the woman this much, Father walking off the altar during the eulogy was detestable. As far as her lesbian lifestyle, he was correct in denying her communion. She could attempt to live a chaste life, orientation notwithstanding.

  19. ummm… that should have been “even the best advice if you’re wagging your finger in their face”

  20. Right. A few words ‘of remembrance’, under certain circumstances, are permitted. Not a eulogy. When I spoke at my mom’s funeral, the words of remembrance were to remind people of her great devotion to the poor souls in purgatory, to explain what purgatory was, and to ask people to pray for mom as she had prayed for others. In under five minutes.

    Most of the family comments I hear delivered at funerals are weepy exercises in maudlin piety, or, are instant canonizations. One mostly feels embarrassed for the speaker.

  21. I sure hope the Lord exhibits more mercy to us on Judgment Day than we “Christian” mortals do to one another.

    And we wonder why the world mocks us and scorns us. So much for Christian love and compassion.

  22. Fran, umm, why do you think I posted the link?

  23. True….but the fact is He didn’t condemn her, nor did He say, in the case of the woman at the well, “Go and sin no more”. Take it as you will.

  24. Folks, read, and distinguish, Canons 915 and 916, and attend to the values underlying both. Also, Canon 1184 is useful here.

  25. This priest’s actions were reprehensible. He has no idea of the state of that woman’s soul….perhaps she’d been to Confession, perhaps she was in a platonic relationship…he had no idea. To publicly embarrass her at the funeral of her parent is horrible. He certainly did nothing to bring her back into a state of grace or help reconcile her with the Church. His actions were totally lacking in compassion and empathy. I’m sure he felt very proud of himself as he chose this time and this issue to make his stand and show people what our Church is all about. Absolutely terrible. For those who quote canon law, who quote the “rules”…I guess you’ve got a point, as did the scribes and pharisees.

    I’m also sick to death of our Church having become so fixated on sex. It’s ridiculous. All I read about anymore is contraception, gay marriage, etc. You’re a good Catholic if you’re on board with the Church’s teaching on these issues. It’s no wonder we’re losing so many people. I read Matthew 25, the scene of last judgement, and I see nothing about sex. I read the Beatitudes, and I see nothing about sex. I even look at the 10 Commandments, and except for coveting your neighbor’s spouse, I see nothing about sex. Is it important? Sure….but IT’S ALL WE TALK ABOUT RECENTLY!!

  26. It seems to me that Father presumed – based on something he “heard” – that he knew the condition of this lady’s soul. If it thought the “rumor” he heard was credible, then he should have taken this lady to the side and privately discussed the situation with her – with the hope that he would be able to assist her in her resolve to live according to God’s commands. If he was going to take a stand to show that that this lady’s life choice were objectionable, he should have KNOWN – first hand – what exactly was ACTUALLY happening in her life… not based on second hand knowledge. And, based on personal – first hand knowledge – he could explain to her that she would not be admitted to Communion and asked her NOT to present herself.

    I do agree that if this lady actually was “A lifelong Catholic and former Catholic school teacher” then her statement that she basically didn’t know any better is either less than honest or a very sad statement about the parish (and if she went to one the Catholic School) in which she grew up.

    It is true that eulogies are NOT allowed at Catholic Funeral Masses or Services. It does not matter what “most parishes” do, they aren’t allowed. A Funeral Mass or Service is NOT an exultation of the deceased but rather a prayer commending them to God’s mercy and a reminder of our hope in the Resurrection for those who remain behind.

    Father made a decision that should have been discussed privately with this lady before it was put into action. He allowed for a eulogy at a Funeral Mass which the Church does not allow. It seems that while Father’s intentions were good -uphold the dignity of the Blessed Sacrament and allow for “pastoral reasons” for a eulogy to be offered (I presume to know Father’s intentions but I do so with a great deal of PERSONAL knowledge—I’ve been there myself) – his execution was lacking.

    And, yes, I do agree that this lady should have known better – but regardless, it’s Father’s responsibility to address such serious moral issues privately with the individual (as a matter of Charity) prior to making it a public issue.

    God bless Father for his desire to do serve the “Greater Good” and God bless this lady who – it seems – has wandered from His Love. A sad situation made worse by misguided decisions – by both parties.


  27. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    But here is my question.

    If someone comes in and says to you, “You know, Joe Schmoe is living in public sin…” just minutes before a Funeral Mass is to start, how would you as a priest know such a thing is really true? Maybe it is true that the person was doing so before, but went to Confession just before the Mass and has resolved to change his or her life or “lifestyle.” Is it really just to take such a public course of action solely based on the words of someone else? It seems to me that the only just and prudent course would be to discuss it with Joe before the service, or if that is not possible given the time constraints, I would argue that it is fitting to go forward as planned until one could receive objective confirmation by addressing it directly and pastorally with the person in a private setting.

  28. Paul also said 1Cor 11:17 “In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact that your meetings are doing more harm than good.” Rules aside, this pastor’s actions were harmful. Jesus had little patience for the righteous.

  29. Charity without truth isn’t real charity. It’s deception.

    Can someone let me know if a priest sins by giving communion to someone he knows to be engaging in seriously sinful conduct?

  30. The priest should have taken the woman aside before Mass began, and spoken to her quietly, asking not to go to Communion. He might also have stopped to wonder if the person who gave him this news a few minutes before the start of a funeral might not have been telling the truth. And no matter what, he should not have walked off the altar, and refused to go to the cemetery.

  31. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Bottom line: this could have, and should have, been handled much more sensitively and pastorally.

    Again and again, I hear from people who left the Church not over matters of doctrine, or disagreements over teaching, but over things like this.

    This was unnecessary and avoidable.

  32. Just curious….who denies Communion to all the clergy accused and convicted of abusing children ????

  33. Ooops…got a bit over zealous…forgot the Do not commit adultery in the 10 Commandments…my bad…..

  34. Holly Hansen says:

    Oh Good Lord ! Canon this and canon that. WHAT WOULD JESUS DO ? Enough with the Catholic sharia.

  35. Thank you for sharing. This topic often comes up among Church goers, especially Eucharistic Ministers (wait, I know, “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion”). No one is worthy to receive Communion; no one. Fr. Guarnizo was out of line. No one has the right to deny someone Communion. Now, often, when there is a public figure who claims to be Catholic and is at a Mass that is going to be televised, this is usually settled prior to the Mass. Either the person may have confessed and receives, or they don’t receive and the camera does not focus on him/her. During Ted Kennedy’s funeral, they wisely did not televise the reception of Communion. They shot away. (Thank goodness). The part about the eulogy should definitely been handled prior. In some Churches, the pastor does not allow eulogies. In others, the eulogy is done prior to the Mass, not during. And in some places, the eulogy has to be approved by the pastor/presider. So really, Fr. walking off the altar should have and could have been avoided. I work for the Church and it really is becoming tiresome. Yesterday I heard a talk about how there are Catholics out there who are not attending Church…and what are we doing about it? Really? Really? I’m even at the point where I just ignore these things and pray for an influx of prayerful, spiritual leaders as opposed to those who like to sit on their throne and point fingers. Especially, when someone is mourning. How cruel.

  36. I am just trying to gather information, of course it was a terribly upsetting situation. But the priest is entitled to fair treatment too and as I get older I try not to jump to any conclusions too quickly.

    The opposite extreme of clerical insensitivity I think is to say oh, how annoying, we have all these pesky laws and strictures regarding how we live our lives imposed on us by the Church. Why can’t we all just get along and commune over a friendly meal in church and love each other? Every missal makes it very clear, however, that there are requirements imposed on us before we present ourselves for communion; the bishops of the United States I believe composed it.

  37. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

    Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

    Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

    From “A Man for All Seasons” by Robert Bolt

  38. I don’t think you know what sharia is, HH.

  39. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    Is that a serious question?

    Dcn. G.

  40. Deacon Greg:

    I must disagree with you on this, and this getting off topic. When people leave the church, and the reason is “the priest yelled at me in the confessional” or “the priest would not let me do XYZ at the wedding,” that is the excuse given. There is always something much deeper, that is just the item that they use.

    There are lots of things my pastor does that I am not happy with, but these are not things that will make me leave the Church.

  41. I can’t agree Joyce. The priest does have the right to refuse communion in particular circumstances. No one has an absolute right to receive. This “anything goes” attitude I tie directly to the deteriorating belief in the Real Presence. It is not a symbol we are receiving, it is God himself.

  42. Anna,

    They are removed from public ministry immediately upon the mere allegation of abuse, pending the outcome of an investigation. If determined to be guilty, they are laiciized…

    …all by the bishops.

    Does that answer your question? Where have you been for the past 10 years?

  43. A magnificent performance by Scofield.

  44. I’m wearied by all the good folks who wring their hands over how our Church is losing people because of her insistence on rules. Are we all suffering from amnesia that we’ve forgotten that in Nazi Germany, Communist bloc countries, Spain and Mexico in the 1930′s and elsewhere being a Catholic Christian meant imprisonment, torture and death? If we can’t endure the little disciplines how will we be able to face persecution when and if it comes?

  45. Scout, I agree that it can seem that way, but it’s also true that the media plays up this caricature of the Church by ceaselessly inserting issues like contraception (via George Stephanopolous) into the national conversation to attack Republicans and make them appear scary.

    That said, sexual sin is common and to some extent out of control in our culture and world. The Church therefore has no choice but to preach against it.

  46. This is outrageous, In claiming to be upholding the Catechism, Fr Guarnizo is displaying woeful ignorance ot it, on at least three counts. (See for an explanation)

    If acting contrary to the Catechism is necessarily sinful, then by his own standards he is himself in sin. That is why he needs to apologize. The theory of confession states that not only must we repent and confess our sins – but also that for absolution, we must make reparation to those we have injured. The hurt in this case cannot be undone – the least that will suffice is a public apology.

  47. I’m always surprised to learn at a funeral how the deceased is “in heaven”. I’ve even heard priests say it.

  48. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    People may be wavering. They may be thinking of jumping ship. But that doesn’t mean we should go out of our way to give them a push.

  49. “No one has the right to deny someone Communion.”

    While I believe this priest could have handled this situation much more sensitively, that statement is absolutely false.

  50. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    It definitely was.

    Of course the point is that laws, while rarely perfect and sometimes cumbersome, can and often do serve and protect us and the integrity of the common life in the Church from the whims of others as well as ourselves. Hopefully they serve both charity and justice.

    But a Church without laws is the tyrant’s playground.

  51. Mr. Peters, I am not sure why! Now perhaps it is clear. Thank you! Fran

  52. What I see above, amid much ignorance (descriptive word, that, not evaluative) of the basic rules on funerals, admission to holy Communion, and the role of law in the Church, plus the de rigueur combox grenade on clergy sex abuse of course, is yet another sign that directly and formally dealing with the homosexual lifestyle among Catholics cannot be put off much longer. The Church’s condemnation of same-sex activity is Scriptural and absolutely unwavering over 2000 years, and yet, it seems, many priests and ministers have no concrete ideas about how to deal with it (legally, pastorally, personally, whatever), at least, no ideas more than five minutes before they need to make a decision in a real case. We need to get, once and for all, very clear on what the Church does, and does not, teach about same-sex issues, and we need to train priests and others in how to deal with it. This case-by-case approach serves no one well. Obviously.

  53. Deacon Greg:

    What about the people who are wavering because they don’t see any difference in the behavior and attitudes of Catholics from the secular culture? Who are thinking, “What’s the point? If it’s all just a social club? Why bother?”

    And then those people see that no, it really doesn’t seem to matter – that the radical call to follow the Gospel and live a life of sacrificial love – sacrificing our own desires for the sake of the truth and love – doesn’t really matter and no one – even in teh Church – really cares?

    What about what pushes *them?* -

  54. Kathy Keenan says:

    As a parishioner of St. John’s I would like to publicly state that I don’t believe this represents our parish views at all. I am a EMHC at St. John’s and would never have thought something like this would happen at St. John’s. I think I would have refused to serve at this mass had I been there. The Pastor and the Archdiocese are working on a response to this issue and I think they will have some interesting comments on this.

  55. Amen, Ed. Unfortunately most of the bishops lack the backbone to tackle the issue, and that’s a crime. We’ve seen Deacon Greg post repeatedly on the issue of Eucharistic reception issues regarding proabort politicians such as Biden, Pelosi, et al., divorced and remarried (without annulment) Catholics, and now this. It all points toward the ultimate issue:

    What is holiness?

    Many have commented in favor of allowing communion to those who persist in obstinate lifestyles, lest they succumb to despair. I think that such sentiment simultaneously ignores the power of the Holy Spirit to move hearts, as well as the resilience of the human spirit. These people ought to have personal relationships with clergy that are being cultivated. Being told that they cannot receive until the sinful impediment is removed is a loving act, especially when combined with ongoing pastoral counseling.

    Giving in and giving communion confirms them in their sin and may well remove the only real pastoral aid in assisting the individual’s conversion and repentance.

  56. I guess he “presumed” rightly, because it was accurate.

  57. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    Those people are unknown to me. I’ve never met anyone who thought of the Church as just a “social club.”

    Dcn. G

  58. Deacon Moore says:

    I call it the “Let US hold the door for you as you leave the Church so it doesn’t hit you on the way out” syndrome. It’s amazing how many people we manage to turn away, especially at baptisms, weddings and funerals because of our righteousness and 100% adherence to “the LAW”. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can state with perfect honesty, I know absolutely nothing about any single individual’s relationship with God. And because I don’t, I can neither condemn them, nor deny them the sacraments when they come before me.

  59. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    If pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi sets the bar as to who can and cannot receive Communion, pardon the pun but it’s an open bar.

  60. Kenny,

    The persecution is just getting warmed up. The HHS mandate is just the opening act.

  61. Deacon Moore,

    You speak as if the decision is yours. The Church’s bishops have drafted statements to be read at weddings and funerals regarding Eucharistic reception. Priests and Deacons need only practice their obedience in this regard. To do other is to practice judgement against the bishop in the name of not practicing judgement on the laity.

  62. Deacon, there is only one sacrament that you confer (baptism) and only one that you administer (holy Communion). The first is not at issue here, so the only one you need to watch in this context is Communion, in which case, tho, the rules for you are essentially the same as they are for every other minister, right? I’m sure you know, no one judges souls in any context whatsoever.

  63. Thomas that IS the case for baptized children under the age of reason.

    I agree with Ed Peters re: the eulogies, yet, I still experience them and I cringe.

    It’s always good to be reminded about the prayers needed for the poor souls in purgatory, including our loved ones that we all thing are “instant saints.”

    As for the priest denying communion: if he had no prior knowledge that she would be wanting it, he absolutely did the right thing to avoid an scandal. It just would have been nice to get the message out that there is no sin in homosexuality, only the act of it, no different than an unmarried hetero couple living together.

  64. The sad truth is that many in the Chruch appear to love the law, perhaps even to the point of worship, far more than they love Christ and God’s compassion. The law becomes an obsession, excluding all other teachings. The law becomes not the guide, but the purpose.

  65. Suburbanbanshee says:

    When Jesus Christ tells you exactly what you’ve done while looking straight into your eyes, He doesn’t need to be explicit about “you’ve done horrible wrong, fixing it should be your first priority, and you shouldn’t be doing X or Y or Z until you fix your life.”

    There were a few people whom He had to get explicit with, because they pretended they didn’t understand. And boy howdy, did He condemn them!

    So yeah, if you’re somebody who teaches Catholic kids at a Catholic school, and you’re causing public scandal, and then you go ahead and present yourself for Communion like there’s nothing going on, what do you think will happen? Even if 99.9% of the time, people let it slide, you don’t have any right to be shocked and surprised and hurt at the .1% of the time when people actually follow the rules.

    I’m hiding my food as I walk across the parking lot, when I’m going to a Mass several hours in the future, just to prevent scandal over looking like I don’t know about the fast — and she’s got everybody in town knowing how she sleeps around, and doesn’t expect anything to happen? Sheesh. Must be nice to have that much chutzpah and that little shame.

  66. Suburbanbanshee says:

    A Funeral Mass isn’t absolutely necessary; there’s no shame in having a Catholic interment now, with a Requiem Mass later. Certainly if the deceased had the Anointing of the Sick and other last rites, there’s no fears for the person’s soul.

    But if you never have a Funeral Mass or a Requiem Mass, it’s a real shame. It’s such a good thing to pray for someone’s soul in a concentrated way, and it’s so good for everyone who attends to think of the Last Things. It’s very beautiful and holy.

    It sounds very sad that your rite doesn’t do it for laypeople; but if all the Rites are happy with their own way to go, that’s copacetic with me.

  67. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Not burying the mother was wrong, unless a big point was made that the mother was also a public sinner and unrepentedly dissented in a big public way from Church teaching. (Which can happen in a eulogy.)

  68. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If the priest really did get sick after Communion (and there’s no reason to believe he was lying), did this woman actually want Father to drag himself along to the cemetery so he could puke up on her mother’s coffin?

    I know we expect priests to be superhuman, but this is ridiculous.

  69. Dcn Greg–agreed.

  70. Fortunately, as Peter says, it only appears that way.

  71. For what they are worth, I offer three things:

    1) I was once at a Requiem Mass where a man rose to receive Communion. His mother was aghast because he had not been to church in nigh on 10 years and, placing her hand on his arm, told him to sit down. However, he went forward and received Christ’s Body and Blood. Later, he said that the experience was one of profound healing and that the Blood of Christ seemed to create a fire in his heart. That weekend, he went to the sacrament of Reconciliation and became not only a daily communicant, but an active parishioner.

    2) At the Last Supper, the Lord gave His Body and Blood to the person He knew was going to betray Him.

    3) Whilst Fr. Guarnizo undoubtedly acted according to what he believed to be best and out of rightful reverence for the Eucharist, he displayed a shocking lack of pastoral sensitivity by not handling the matter privately before the funeral.

  72. [Comment deleted for offensive content. -- Ed.]

  73. 1. There are a lot of explanations for what apparently happened there (including that God need not work within the channels he nevertheless expects us to follow).

    2. Judas’ sin was not public (or even completed) at the time (assuming he was still there, which I gather is in some doubt).

    3. It’s a little hard to grant Father the first points, and yet condemn him with such ferocity, no?

  74. I’m guessing Dcn. GK is at lunch, else, this post would not pass muster under the commenting rules here.

    [Just caught it, Ed. It's gone. -- Dcn. G.]

  75. If the Archdiocese of Washington is sincere in it’s written statement that Fr. Marcel was wrong, then Fr. Marcel owes Barbara a public apology if he cannot find it withinn himself to publicaly apologize, he should, in good conscience resign, or be removed by the ordinary, as the pastor of St. John Newman parish. There are now grave doubts as to his suitability to be the shepherd of souls in that Archdiocese.

  76. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    A thought…

    Since it’s widely known that many who attend funerals and weddings are either unchurched or lapsed, if a priest is genuinely concerned about issues like this he should ascertain what, exactly, he’s dealing with beforehand.

    He should talk to the family. Discuss any irregularities. Ask some questions. Extend a helping hand to those who might want to find their way back to the faith. Offer to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation at a mutually convenient time for those who might want it.

    And to make sure everyone is on the same page: the priest, deacon or other appropriate minister could make a brief announcement before Mass about regulations surrounding communion. (The standardized language of the USCCB, found in many missals, says it clearly.)

    Perhaps making such practices SOP would be helpful for all concerned. It might very well have avoided what happened in Maryland.

  77. See, Greg, you go to the vending machine for five minutes, and whammo. :)

  78. Yeah, that’s right, ‘Rick B’, just keep upping the ante from the safety of an anonymous keyboard.

  79. yup.

  80. Fr. Marcel is not the pastor.

  81. As I read through all these comments only one thought kept going through my mind, which was the same as my initial response to reading the article – It was her mother’s funeral!!!! There is a time to be pastoral and a time to worry about attempting to correct behavior the church considers immoral (and incidentally, that should be done pastorally as well – not for all the world to see!!). Funerals are occasions to be pastoral – period. My grandmother died in December and at her funeral my uncle (her son) spontaneously got up at the end of the homily, walked up to the pulpit and extemporaneously eulogized his mother (we had made it clear to the priest that no one was going to do a reflection after communion and instead some of us had written reflections that we printed in the mass booklet). So we all knew (my family are very much follow-the-rules type of Catholics) it was inappropriate in both timing and content, but it was heartfelt and helped my uncle deal with his grief and feel that his mother was being remembered “properly.” Obviously, my uncle wasn’t really thinking about following proper protocol at that moment – he was thinking about his mother and coping with her death. The priest – who is a very by-the-book, follow-the proper protocol – pomp and circumstance kind of pastor, completely went along with it without missing a beat and, for that, he grew greatly in my esteem that day. In my opinion (which admittedly counts for very little), we do much more to build our church by being willing to allow a pastorally appropriate response at a pastorally appropriate moment than worrying about making sure everyone is 100% following the rules. After all, we all follow Someone who was willing to heal on the Sabbath which was against the rules then too. We are called to be merciful. May all involved parties find a way to peace and may Barbara know that she is a loved and valued part of the Catholic community, and more importantly, a beloved child of God.

  82. I’m willing to bet that walking off that altar was one of the most painful, gut-wrenching experiences of that priest’s life. That must have been some eulogy (He learned a painful lesson; it may be a long time before he allows another). And having to deny someone Holy Communion in the same liturgy. My sympathies are entirely with him.

    He did what he had to do; I don’t believe for a second that he relished it.

  83. I would also like to add, that I think we are also seeing a huge onslaught of negative comments (especially on other blogs) about Fr. Marcel, as he is one of the priests who is leading the effort to close down the late term abortion clinic led by Dr. Carhart.

  84. Thanks for your comments. As usual giving food for thought.

  85. “Ed Peters says:
    February 28, 2012 at 8:01 am
    Folks, read, and distinguish, Canons 915 and 916, and attend to the values underlying both. Also, Canon 1184 is useful here.”

    Thanks, Dr. Peters. What I see in Canon 915 is that apart from those who are formally excommunicated or interdicted, the only people who are to be refused Communion are those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” I assume those words all mean something. “Obstinately” seems to require that they have been admonished and continue even after the admonition. And “manifest” seems to mean that there sin is generally known. Considering that the priest was unaware of the woman’s situation until a few minutes before Mass, it hardly seems to have been particularly manifest, and considering that he did not speak to her earlier and tell her to stop sinning manifestly only to have her persist there seems to be no obstinacy. I have been told that canon law is to be interpreted in ways that allow the most possible freedom and impose the least restriction. So it is pretty clear that Canon 915 did not require (and therefore did not allow) the priest to refuse Communion to the woman.

    Canon 916 imposes obligations only on the communicant. So Canon 916 gives the priest no basis for refusing Communion to the woman.

    The deceased at the funeral does not fall under any of the three categories of people who are to be denied funeral rites under Canon 1184. Therefore she was entitled to the Rite of Committal, and if the priest was feigning illness, he violated the canon.

    Thanks for clarifying the matter and showing us that the priest was in the wrong as a matter of canon law.

  86. Having had to resort to forcing a bishop to act to stop a Catholic priest from
    giving an unrepentant adulterous pair, communion in front of our children, I have seen enough!

    I was glad when the communion stopped. Our children were glad as well. It
    was scandalous to them.

    Do not presume I wish anyone denied communion, ill. It is for their good, not to
    make them “feel” well or healed. There is no “healing” love of Jesus in a scandalous reception of the Eucharist.


  87. Wow, what a conversation. To come back to planet Earth for a moment, let’s acknowledge that there are millions of Christians who believe that momogamous relationships between people of the same sex are respectable and life giving. Mass-going Catholics, even many members of the clergy (!) hold this view. It’s not based on a desire to water down the faith, but on a greater understanding of the human mind and body. We’ve progressed in our understanding of slavery and eating pork. No Catholic blogs are parsing what the Scriptures say about the need to execute a person who curses his or her parents or whether unbaptized babies go to limbo. As long as the Catholic hierarchy and laity hold on to a Middle Ages understanding of human sexuality, the church will become more and more irrelevant in a world in which it can and has been such a force of Good.

    The Jesus of the Gospels (who never uttered a word about homosexuality) may have said “sin no more” but for those of us who have every reason to believe that the woman who was denied Eucharist was in a healthy, not sinful, relationship, the talk of which Canon says what is irrelevant.

  88. Barbara Peters can be thankful, even in her grief, that her mother has gone to be with the God who is more compassionate, more knowing, more generous, and more forgiving than even the most generous humans who attempt to do God’s work in the Church. (And I’m not at all convinced that those who have condemned Barbara Peter, or turned a cold shoulder to her mother’s burial, as Fr. Marcel did, are even close to being the most generous, Christ-like people in the Church.)

  89. Yes, N, that’s my conclusion, too, based on what’s in the media about this.

  90. This was my parish until recently (I moved) and I personally know Fr. Marcel. He is a good and holy priest, but he is definitely cut from a different cloth than most priests today. For one, he doesn’t mince words, nor does it shirk from the Church’s “hard” teachings. To be honest, he is a breath of fresh air in comparison to so many priests (and bishops) today who refuse to condemn sin under the excuse that it is not “pastoral”. But this does not mean that Fr. Marcel is not pastoral – in fact, I found him to be genuinely and sincerely concerned with every person’s salvation. He would do anything, regardless of the personal cost, to help another person get to heaven. Isn’t that the way we want our priests?

    I do not know all the facts about this particular situation (and neither does anyone else who simply read the article), and Fr. Marcel may well have acted inappropriately in some of his actions. However, I have to ask those who are criticizing Fr. Marcel – is there ANY situation in which you feel it is appropriate for a priest to deny someone communion? It is a serious question, because every time a person is denied communion (rare as that is), it is always condemned as not being “pastoral” or lacking in charity. Must the Eucharist be handed out like candy at Halloween in order to be “pastoral”?

  91. With respect, naturgesetz, I don’t think the word “only” is in canon 915 but will check, and I don’t think that is the only law in play here. As Cardinal Arinze once said, if communion should not be received, it should not be given. If the priest had first hand knowledge that this woman was actively engaging in a homosexual lifestyle, and had no intention of stopping, I don’t see how he can be condemned for making a prudential judgment that she was not worthy to receive. The first and foremost rule of canon law is the “salvation of souls” and I don’t see how the priest conforms to that canon while helping this communicant receive unworthily. But we have far too little information to really know what happened.

  92. Here is another side of Fr. Marcel Guarnizo – preaching against abortion in front of a local late-term abortion clinic:

  93. Seems like I am seeing in the story that the priest was just made aware “a few minutes before the funeral began”. Kind of a immediate issue thrown on the priest. I agree that as a lifelong Catholic the woman should have known that her lifestyle is in direct conflict with Church teaching and that thus she was approaching the Eucharist in the state of grave sin. As a priest, if he is made aware that a sacralidge to the Eucharist is about to happen, and that is what he has been taught and clearly sees as Church teaching, is thus providing the Eucharist not sinful on his part? Does he have any rights in this situation? If we look at this from the standpoint of a priest of the Catholic Church and what is the clear teaching of the Church, it seems to me he has no choice. If one simply looks at the Eucharist as bread and not the Body of our Lord, then have at it.

    Ed Peters in his clear evaluation of canon law during the discussion of Gov Cuomo receiving communion seems to have laid out the case for this priest action. He did not have time to pull her away from some long conversation from what it looks like to me.

    Why is it we never look to the person going up in open dissent as being wrong, only the one being put into a position like this in upholding the teaching of the Church he has taken vows to follow those same teachings. Why is it we never look at the need to protect the sacred Host. We take so much care if a little partical is dropped that it be consumed. Church teaching is clear that those in grave sin are not to approach or receive. If there is doubt or the status in most cases not known, that is one thing. If it is clear that the person is in grave sin, then there should be no doubt. I see nothing in the article that states this woman denied being in this lifestyle. We deny those living in this lifestyle the sacrament of marriage. Why not the sacrament of the Eucharist?

    The evil one always uses these type of stories to distract from the truth and loves nothing more than to see sacralidge to the Body and Blood of Christ. I blame this woman much more than the priest.

    My only issue here is his not going with the body to the cemetary and if he was ill, then there is not an issue at all. He might have been made ill by being put in this position by a woman who clearly should have known church teaching.

  94. I thought the same thing but forgot to add that above. This is one thing that should be stopped. But when you have Cardinal and Bishops involved sitting there watching this teaching be abused as with Teddy Kennedy, it is hard to stop it with everyone else.

  95. Karl is correct. Some probably see it as love to give their drug addicted children more powerful drugs. Giving someone we know to be in the state of grave sin the sacrament of the Eucharist is far worse for we are now providing them another grave sin and I suspect also sinful ourself in providing it to them.

    Does anyone know if this is covered in canon law. If a priest knowingly provides Eucharist to someone they know by their public life to be in grave sin, is this covered as being grave sin in itself? Are those bishops who say they will not deny the Eucharist to those openly in grave sin not putting their own soul at risk?

  96. George Mason says:

    What is especially disturbing is that this was the lead story on the local channel 9 wusa – cbs news in Washington, DC. The newscaster presented it as “Catholic rules” hurting people.
    We can’t blame the media for attacking when corruption is found in the Church.
    But, now the media attacks the Church when priest is doing his job.
    This is a gross bias and interference in the Church’s internal matters.

    And now that Francis shows us his defense of life, we know why there are people out to get him.

  97. Ah! Now we are talking common sense. Sadly, as with our political discourse, there is no room here for common sense, let alone that which is grounded in the real world. All that remains is a tired medieval ideology that is strangling the body of Christ.

    Christ came to transform, transfigure and renew the world. Meanwhile, his disciples twist, turn and distort to conform Christ to their rather small world, and worse, their own loathings and fears.

  98. George Mason says:

    The problem is that some people worship their own ideas rather than the God who revealed himself through Jesus Christ the founder of the Catholic Church.

  99. While plainly this account reflects an incident poorly handled, it strikes me that the Church has placed itself in peril by not “enforcing” her precepts regarding marital relationships being open to new life, at least according to our lawmakers. Is the Church in greater peril if she does more forcefully encourage adherence to the Catechism?

  100. naturgesetz says:

    The word “only” is not there, but the canon only lists three categories of individuals. The canon does not give some broad ground for making prudential judgments. It lists three categories, and the only one that is relevant here is one that requires grave sin that is manifest and obstinately persisted in. The reason the Archdiocese said the priest acted inappropriately is that they know that the canon does not cover situations like this. It is not an authorization for spur-of-the-moment refusals of Communion. It requires the sort of pastoral approach they outlined in their statement when they said, “Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.”

  101. George Mason says:

    Jesus never uttered the word Vin, so I guess you don’t exist.
    Your comment is drivel, Vin.
    You act as if your are the enlightened sage of the Golden Age.
    If only the Church were founded by you rather than Jesus Christ!

    Jesus spoke on sexual matters as did St. Paul. St. Jude confirmed that Sodom was destroyed for sexual immorality.

    FYI, before you make the stupid pork and cursing comment again, try reading Acts of the Apostles and St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae I-II q. 90-106. Focus especially on the Old and New Laws.

  102. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    Great idea. Makes a great deal of pastoral sense.

    But given the size of some parishes (a neighboring RC parish has 10,000 members and 1 priest and 1 deacon) and the chaos of a family in the throes of preparations for a funeral, how realistic would this be?

    I go back to questioning the practical wisdom of offering the Funeral Mass as a preferred option – or even an option at all – for the burial of the laity. The same thing with weddings. If these types of public liturgies cannot be accompanied with the personal and pastoral touch you suggest here, Deacon Greg, it would seem a great deal easier to encourage the celebration of a funeral liturgy without the Mass for the deceased. Perhaps they could simply be commemorated at the Daily Mass at the parish instead, and those who would wish to attend could do so. It certainly would solve a great number of these issues and potentially public debacles.

  103. Fr. Hayden, with all due respect, what gives you the right to comment (and criticize a fellow priest) on a situation that you have only heard second hand? Considering “you have been there yourself” you should know better. I happen to know “First hand” that Barbara went into the sacristy before the mass and introduced herself as a lesbian in an active lesbian relationship… introducing her partner as “her lover” (her words). She left the sacristy before Fr. could have the “private discussion” you talk about. Barbaras “Lover” blocked his way out of the sacristy when he attempted to speak with her further.

    Before communion, Fr. clearly announced the “rules” for receiving communion to all present (as is common at most weddings and funerals). These “rules” have been consistent for ages and should be nothing new to Catholics… in a nutshell they consist of: you must be Catholic, in a state of grace, have made a good confession since your last mortal sin, believe in transubstantiation, observe the Eucharistic fast, and, finally, not be under an ecclesiastical censure such as excommunication. A mortal sin is any sin whose matter is grave and which has been committed willfully and with knowledge of its seriousness. Grave matter includes, but is not limited to, murder, receiving or participating in an abortion, homosexual acts, having sexual intercourse outside of marriage or being in an invalid marriage etc… After this announcement, Barbara decided to go up to receive the Eucharist anyways. Fr. discretely whispered to her that she could not receive… Whats the problem?

    As per the so called “Eulogy”, it was described as such by Barbara and her ex sister in law (enough said). “Having been there yourself” Im sure you can imagine having to explaining the difference between a few short words of remembrance and a Eulogy to the daughter of the deceased (who clearly does not like you) before the funeral mass? Im sure you can also imagine how that person may not have liked what you had to say and stormed out of the sacristy not giving you the chance to have your “charitable talk”?

    The only “misguided decisions” I see are 1) that Barbara insisted on receiving the Eucharist after it was made clear that she could not 2) that you and Deacon Greg are so quick to throw a fellow religious under the bus.

    Dont you think there’s enough ill-informed finger pointing going around already Fr.?

  104. Richard Johnson says:

    Interesting story here. After denying the woman communion, and then walking from the altar during the eulogy, the priest (not the sinful woman) became ill (if we are to believe the priest’s story).

    Say all you want, but it sounds like me that God had the last word in this, not the priest.

  105. Those bashing the priest do not know what information he received. It must have been clear enough that he made the painful decision to act. I still believe the lifelong Catholic and Catholic school teacher should have known Catholic teaching and been proactive in seeking out the priest before the mass to discuss this issue. She may have been well known in the community as a gay activist who was there to make a point against the Church. We simply do not have the facts that were provided to this priest and yet some here are condemning him.

  106. The AOW made the right call with mostly the right explanation. Kevin, the “only” notion is read, as N does rightly, into the canon by operation of canon 18, and 912.

  107. naturgesetz says:

    Francis —
    Under Canon 915 a priest may deny Communion if he knows that the person has been formally excommunicated, or if he knows that the person is formally under interdict, or if he has warned a person who is known to be guilty of grave sin that they must stop committing that sin and the person continues in the sin even after the warning (which is what obstinately persisting means — it’s not obstinate until after the priest has had the pastoral conversation with the person). Apart from that, no priest has a right to refuse Communion to a Catholic.

    It’s not just that Fr. Marcel was not being pastoral; it’s that by springing it on her at Communion time he was violating Canon 915.

  108. naturgesetz says:

    George, the priest was not doing his job. He was violating Canon 915 by refusing Communion in a circumstance in which it did not permit him to refuse it. That’s why the Archdiocese issued the statement it did about how these issues should be handled.

  109. Deacon, I have met a number of them. They have been lifelong Catholics who watched their church taken over by those who do not believe in the teaching of the Church and witnessed the liturgy being turned into a game of “see who can openly dissent the most”. They watched as nuns openly dissented bashing the Pope and the Church because they could not be priests. They watched as Bishops openly dissented on birth control and gay marriage. They watched those such as Ted Kennedy who supported abortion in every way possible aiding the killing of millions of babies. They watched as gay priest multiplied and other perverts joined the ranks and the abuse of children and cover up exploded and the money they gave each week was used as payoffs. Many of them finally stopped going. Some joined the Orthodox Catholic Church.

    We weep for the children abused, but to those who have been abused by those who should be teaching and upholding the faith are denied…they are unknown to the to many in our clergy. And if they speak up, they are called names for defending the actual teaching of the Church. You can see it right here in this story. The priest was doing what was right by Church teaching to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege by those who have no idea what the priest learned moment before the mass. It seems even the clergy want to jump on this priest without all the information.

  110. Do you think Jesus would let Himself be subject to sacrilege? Don’t you think that Jesus has more control over His Body than humans do? If Jesus didn’t want someone to receive His Body don’t you think He has the power to remove His Presence from the Host? We have no power over Him. He allowed Himself to be crucified. He could have stopped it at any time. That is why I think people make themselves too important if they really think they control the Mystery of the Eucharist. He is in control of everything.

  111. Deacon, did you take vows? Why is it the you do not seem to want to adhere to the “laws’ of the Church you vowed I would assume some obedience? I do not think your vows made you part of the Magesterium. Why do you get to decide what laws to obey and what laws you decide are not Catholic. You seem to be filled with pride. It is far harded to accept the teaching of the Church and to pick up the cross to follow than to run out to the wide road that leads away from Christ. Frankly, that is why I feared the growth of the Deacon ministry in the Church. Living in the world, they would bring more Catholic Church dissention into the clergy and more confusion to the layity. However, since the Church allows this ministry, I have to accept it and support it even with my doubts and concerns.

    What disturbs me is that those who want to preach this compassion and tolerance seem to have little for those who do try to follow all Church teaching.

  112. “Do you think Jesus would let Himself be subject to sacrilege?”

    Probably thousands of times day someone receives unworthily somewhere.

  113. What baloney.

  114. Paul Stokell says:

    Dura lex, sed lex; Deo gratias.

  115. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I don’t have the funeral rite in front of me, but I believe the ritual says something like: “A eulogy may never replace the homily.” And there is an indication that some remarks by a loved one MAY be made before the final commendation. It doesn’t call those remarks a “eulogy,” but that’s pretty much what it is.

    Dcn. G.

  116. Wow! What a ridiculous comment. If you want to be a member of a church which caters to current
    public opinion vs. eternal verities, go join a mainline Protestant denomination. All scripture is inspired
    by God (both old and new testaments) and both testaments clearly condemn homosexuality regardless of whether “there are millions of Christians who believe that momogamous relationships between people of the same sex are respectable and life giving”.

  117. DvS:

    You are the second peson I have heard this from. I did not make this statement because I was trying to verify them through my own sources. Hopefully, the announcement from the Archdiocese will speak to these issues.

    However, the damage has already been done. The moment the Archdiocese, in my opinion, said what they said, they have lost any moral high ground.

  118. What do you think God’s final words will be about homosexual acts Richard?

  119. Ok I read them. 912′s reference to “law,” generally, does not to me seem to make this an airtight case of wrongdoing. Let’s take the extreme example of a person who shoots someone in church and then presents himself for communion. Under the interpretation of naturgesetz, the priest could not say “no” because the strict requirements of 915 have not been satisfied. These facts almost seem designed for a mock trial.

  120. DvS appears to be speaking with highly pertinent information that never appeared in the WUSA report (golly; I wonder why).

    If DvS is to be believed, it’s even more certain that Fr. Guarnizo is the one who was ambushed, and that he handled himself under the circumstances as well as anyone could have asked. A woman who’s capable of flinging her defiance in a priest’s face (and then flouncing off before he can respond) is every bit as capable of hijacking the liturgy in a “eulogy” so scandalous that that priest judges himself morally bound to absent himself.

    I am not at all surprised to see the Archdiocese has pushed Fr. Guarnizo from the sled in a craven effort to escape the media wolves.

  121. William Lawton says:

    This is all so sad especially for a grieving family. So many judgments by so many people. Would that you would take the time to pray for the family rather than make judgements against this woman who suffered the loss of her mother. Where is your compassion ?

  122. Fr. Deacon Daniel, I’d like to set aside the question of having a Mass for the moment. I suspect we will differ on that no matter what is said in the best of faith by either of us. On the central issue in discussion here, I do think it would in fact be reasonable for those immediately involved in the funeral preparations to be advised of the Church’s requirements – there is always a meeting at which readings are selected and so forth. At almost every Mass I have assisted at or attended where there were extended family and others unknown to the Parish expected to attend, a simple announcement on receiving communion has been made; those not receiving are encouraged to come forward for a blessing. No one is left out, and that’s important.

    I pray for this priest and for the family. Healing is needed on both sides.

  123. Ed Peters:

    I respect your expertise and the clear manner that you present canon law. I do, however, take issue with your comment, “the de rigueur combox grenade on clergy sex abuse of course.”

    I am sure that there are some people who delight in taking throwing bombs at the Church for our inadequacies and sinfulness. I can only speak for myself. I treasure the faith that has been passed on to me. But, I will bring this issue up whenever I detect attempts to undermine, ignore, or minimize the seriousness of this scandal.

    Disclaimer: I was “bred and buttered” in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I think and feel that I have a right to be outraged.

  124. naturgesetz says:

    To mix metaphors, if Fr. Guarnizo was ambushed, unfortunately he rose to the bait. The account from DvS puts it all in a different light. But the fact still remains that he had not had the talk with the woman prior to refusing her Communion. If he had followed Canon 915 strictly, and not risen to her bait, the incident would not have happened. She was responsible, under Canon 916, for her decision to come forward. And shame on her if she chose to hijack her mother’s funeral for a publicity stunt.

  125. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Having looked at most of the posts on this sad issue the one thing that is clear is that some of these Catholic bloggerss are redolent of moral posturing, oneupmanship, shortage of Christian charity, and lack of reasonable discourse. The issue itself was rather appalling but many of the comments have been more appalling.

  126. That would give people power over God. That is not possible. When people act disrespectfully towards God it impacts them and their relationship to and with God.

  127. How are same sex-relationships “life-giving?”

  128. Every Mass we pray “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.” What human is really worthy to eat the Body of Christ. It is His great gift to us.

  129. Good points.

    However, if you’re not sure if the woman lives in a platonic relationship with her partner, why be so sure, on the other hand, that the priest “felt very proud of himself”?

  130. And truth without charity?

  131. I think there are people who by their nature take great comfort in the security and structure and organization of rules. Then there are people who need to look behind and beyond the rules. The Lord has made both types of people His Church. The ones who take comfort from the rules keep the others from straying to far from the boundaries and in return those others keep the ones who take comfort from the rules from become too tied down to them. Without both types the Church could not survive.

  132. You may “read” a lot about Catholics contraception and gay marriage, but I can’t remember the last time I heard a priest “talk” about sex–not even at my pre-marriage retreat! In my experience it is taught very rarely. You are far more likely to hear a priest talking about avoiding rash judgement, christian service and discipleship. Very little sex talk for the last 54 years by priests in my little corner of the Mid-West.

    The media thinks priests and Catholics are obsessed by sex–but I haven’t notice it myself.

  133. Deacon Bill says:

    You have summed up the entire situation beautifully!
    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  134. Jesus also took a whip and chased those out of the temple for making a sacrilege of His Fathers House. I would think he would feel the same about sacrilege of the Eucharist .

  135. Thx Mark, but no, on these facts, as reported, I think the priest was wrong. Pity is, such misapplications of c. 915 (I’m guessing it was in his mind, or something like it) make correct applications of the law harder. See my lengthier post on what this case really shows, below. I think the case was sorry for all involved.

  136. Deacon – I know you mean well but do you really think that is the most compassionate and pastoral thing to do while people are suffering the recent loss of a loved one? I don’t want the Priest at my funeral to talk to my children about their shortcomings on the morning of my funeral. I would rather he talk to them of God’s unconditional love for us and His promise of eternal life.

  137. Actually it doesn’t answer her question – the question is who absolves them of their sin and then gives them communion. I am not a canonist but I remember reading that absolving priests involved in sexual misconduct is inappropriate. I may be wrong. But how is it they can be forgiven, and yet this woman wasn’t?

  138. Barbara, I really think you need to read or re-read the Catholic Cathechism.

    2120 Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.[52]

  139. I took the time to read/skim the treatise by then -Archbishop Raymond Burke with
    respect to this subject. It does lay out the effective manner by which these circumstances are supposed to be addressed. It seems that the good priest did not
    strictly adhere to the procedures.

    Regrettably he was put in a very difficult position. I am presuming that he was
    advised how to handle these situations. Then, he should have behaved differently.

    One hopes his bishop takes all the circumstances into consideration when they are
    together to address this incident.

    But this is the tip of the iceburg which really needs addressing.


  140. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    Not to go too far astray here, but in Byzantine practice, in addition to the funeral and burial services, it is common to commemorate the deceased on the:
    - Third day after death
    - Ninth day
    - Fortieth day
    - First anniversary of death
    through a service known as a Parastás or Panikhída.

    Here is a description of the service:

    We also (deacons included) commemorate the departed (lay, clerical and monastic) several times in the Divine Liturgy, even at times by name. My point is not to be critical of Western practice, but to say that there are many ways in each particular Church tradition to commemorate the deceased and to pray for them INCLUDING during the Mass or Divine Liturgy, but that this need not take place on the day of the funeral.

  141. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Andy …

    From my (admittedly imperfect) understanding of sin…confessing sin sincerely and vowing to amend one’s life leads to having that sin forgiven. A priest — or any of us — may thus be forgiven any mortal sin, even murder, if we sincerely pray for forgiveness and wish not to repeat that sin again. The Act of Contrition — which states “I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life” — is a vow to change and try to do better.

    However: a woman involved in a lesbian relationship with another woman, and who plans to continue being sexually active, does not evidently plan to amend her life. She intends to continue repeating what is, in the eyes of the church, a grave sin. What she is doing and continuing to do remains a mortal sin. (The same is true of an unmarried heterosexual couple living together and continuing to have sex.)

    The problem with this case, and so many others, is that it is impossible for someone standing at the communion rail, giving out the Eucharist, to know at that moment the state of someone’s soul. Has the person approaching the sacrament been to confession? Is he or she sexually active? Are they in a state of grace? This is why denying the sacrament at that moment is at best a risky proposition. It’s better handled privately, where these questions can be addressed and answered and, when necessary, reconciliation can occur.

    Dcn. G.

  142. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    No, Barbara, it’s not the most compassionate or pastoral thing to do. But it’s better than what the priest did. What would you suggest?

  143. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    Thank you, my brother Deacon. I agree that there could be opportune ways to address this, but I also think if issues arise like this one in the context of an already emotional time (for instance, the death of a child or an unexpected death), it has the potential to only make difficult matters even more difficult. It is not always possible to offer a fuller catechesis on the matter, and an individual may be less than open to hearing it.

  144. There was a time when the Church firmly held that the earth was the center of the solar system. This belief was rooted in multiple Scripture passages. The Church did not bend to public opinion, but rather to a greater understanding of the world in which we live.

    What did Jesus say about sex? In the Gospels, he clearly condemned divorce and remarriage — without any mention of the possibility that a local church could conduct an investigation and conclude that a sacramental marriage did not exist the first (or second or third) time around. Nonetheless, we have such a process now in order to regularize the situations of divorced and remarried people who still hold the Church’s core teachings and wish to remain a part of it. The Church’s teaching on sexual matters is hardly an eternal verity.

  145. kev, you might find this page interesting:

  146. Nice try.

    Jesus clearly spoke of marriage when He said “What God has joined men must not divide”. That’s the point of annulments–determining that there is no sacramental bond, God has not joined them together.

    As for the Church changing its teaching on sexual matters, particularly same-sex activity, please, please don’t hold your breath.

  147. In the Orthodox Church the Funeral is regarded as a sacrament of the Church on its own and is thus reserved for members of the Church in good standing. You are correct on the point of not mixing Communion with the funeral.

  148. I think that is far from an established fact as I noted above. It is too cramped a reading of canon law to say that 915 is an exclusive statute. It does not say that it is by its terms, and read in conjunction with the supreme law of the Church, the salvation of souls, it’s hard to condemn this priest for the action he took. I’m not saying he could have made a different choice, but the rush to condemn him is somewhat unpastoral in itself.

  149. May I offer some perspective from a non-Catholic…

    First we Orthodox tend to be a bit more tightly wound than most Catholics on the subject of who may and may not take Communion. Communion is not an inalienable right. It, along with all of the Holy Mysteries are the property of the Church into whose custody God bestowed them. In theory our rules are similar to those of the Latin Church, but in praxis there is much less nodding and winking. The presbyter is the guardian of the chalice and may not knowingly permit it to be profaned, including by communing the unworthy.

    In most Orthodox parishes the priest must know your baptismal name to commune you. That means you have to be known by him. If someone unknown to the priest approaches the chalice at communion time it is not at all unusual for the priest to give him/her what we sometimes jokingly refer to as the “third degree.” “Are you Orthodox? Have you kept the fast? Have you been to confession recently?” In some, though not all, parishes one generally must ask the blessing of the priest to commune the Holy Mysteries. Most often this occurs on the night before after taking confession as part of the preparation for Communion. This is more common in the Russian and Slavic traditions. But even among the Greeks it is not at all unusual to see people refused communion. In addition most parish bulletins have an announcement gently reminding visitors that we do not do open communion.

  150. Ladies and gentlemen, we have the Tea Party at prayer here.

    Enjoy the spectacle!

  151. And you believe God would let himself be treatedcthat way?

  152. Deacon I admit it is a difficult dilemma and absolutely I think what was done in Maryland was inappropriate and cruel. I guess if the person doing the explaining could be trusted to be gentle and compassionate and explain the requirements while emphasizing God’s love it could work. I just don’t trust people to act that way and I would be afraid that it could become cold and harsh and judgmental. I am actually sad right now realizing I don’t trust Catholics to be pastoral.

  153. Richard Johnson says:

    Given how God punished this priest for making a hasty judgement on that matter, perhaps it would be best for you to not fall into the same trap.

  154. pagansister says:

    I haven’t read all the previous posts—and I might. Perhaps what I say has been said. IMO, the priest may have been following the rules—but under the circumstances —-the woman was at her mother’s funeral—that rule just might have been able to be ignored this one time. She lives with a woman—happens to be a lesbian—but does or did the priest know whether she was engaging in “inappropriate behavior” with this woman? Did he consider she might be celibate? My guess—no—he just made a quick judgement call and made the already mourning woman’s day worse. Poor behavior IMO. Lots of men live together and aren’t involved—just room mates, sharing rent and lots of women live together—again —just room mates—sharing rent and nothing else.

  155. Richard Johnson says:

    1 Corinthians 11:27-32
    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. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many inform and weak among you, and many sleep. But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.

    If the priest did indeed become ill after the service (and as you said we have no reason to believe otherwise), then are we not left to wonder if his illness was punishment for taking communion in an unworthy manner? I mean, we have the Archdiocese saying that the priest handled this in the wrong manner, so we know that according to Catholic teachings the priest was in the wrong. Why is it such a leap to accept the notion that the priest was made ill by God for dishonoring the Body and Blood, as the passage from 1 Corinthians suggests?

    Surely there is as much evidence to support this conclusion as there is some of the other notions offered here.

  156. Deacon Greg – THank you for your answer. It caused me to reflect, and for that I am grateful.
    My understanding of sin is equally imperfect, and based on my many years ago Catholic School education. I think that Father Guarnizo’s response represents what I see as the hardening of the Catholic Heart. I see this in the responses/statements in these com boxes and elsewhere as well. It saddened me terribly that the church that Jesus established has moved so far away from what I perceive as the grace that Jesus gives us.
    I see appeals to law as a way to “prove” right or wrong. I see little of recognition that each of us is imperfect and in need of spiritual nourishment, which the Eucharist provides.
    Reconciliation is a needed activity, yet I think that people do not see the church as offering reconciliation; rather I think that the church is perceived as offering judgment.
    Perhaps I feel this way because as Chairperson of our pastoral council I hear all to frequently “How can this person be involved in any ministry?” Our parish priest is inundated all to often with the same questions. Yet when asked these are the same people who say “I don”t have time to serve”. As as Eucharistic Minister I have been approached and asked “How can I give communion to person X? Don’t I know about their problems? ”
    My question about who absolves the “priests who were abusers” was perhaps inappropriate, but I do wonder – who indeed does forgive those priests? Or how could these priests continue to perform as priests? What of the sacraments they provided, the counsel, the leadership? Yet they who failed in my mind in a most solemn vow are forgiven and allowed communion? And this women, who was suffering was turned away. It is indeed a harsh statement by the priest. A rambling response and somewhat confused. Thanks for the opportunity to think and to put my ideas down.

  157. Yes, as a matter of fact this is a VERY SERIOUS question.

  158. Actually, no…this does not answer my question and I have been very active in the Church for much longer than as you state “the past 10 years”.
    I have seen abusers just shuttled from one parish to another only to abuse again … I will pose the question once again …who denies Communion to clergy accused and convicted of abusing children ?????

  159. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    I think it is a common expression of hope (one of the supernatural virtues, as I recall) that the dearly departed is in heaven.

    Can you imagine the scandal that would erupt with “Well, we really don’t know where George is right now…we can all speculate, but we hope he’s not in hell.”???

    Expressions like the one you mention are perfectly normal and good. No infallibility is presumed in the pronouncement, but good-will and supernatural hope in God’s mercy are.

  160. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    Thank you, Ad Orientem.

  161. “Eternal rest grant unto her oh Lord and may perpetual light shine upon her.”

  162. Oh I don’t think the priest should have given her communion. Handling it better might be finding the time to tell her before hand. And I’m not sure the priest just taking off was a proper thing either. But these are sketchy details and I bet we don’t know the full story. I can tell from the tone of the news story that it’s slanted against the priest.

  163. I will be writing the chancery of the archdiocese to encourage further action on this- a public apology seems to be the absolute MINIMUM that can be acceptable. I hope that many will join me.

    Cardinal Donald Wuerl
    Archdiocese of Washington
    P.O. Box 29260
    Washington, DC 20017-0260

  164. Thank you Deacon. Both my brother and I said some words at my father’s funeral service. It did not replace a homily given by a priest.

  165. ron chandonia says:

    “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.”

    To what end? Of course, the priest stepped in it here. But the only possible reason to share the story with “the public square” (rather than, say, with the bishop) was to stir up trouble for the Church and thereby promote the notion that Catholic opposition to the demands of gay activists is an affront to decency and compassion. It’s clearly a winning strategy. If you even suggest the woman herself might have been in the wrong, you get branded “the Tea Party at prayer.”

  166. Who are we to judge either the priest or the woman? As someone else said, lesbians and gay men can and do live in committed chaste relationships. Just because someone is living with a person of the same sex does not mean they are sexually active. Heck, monks live together so should they be denied communion based on living together? Did the person who told this information to Father know? Are they peeking in their bedroom? Who can read a communicant’s heart? How do we know if someone has just made a perfect act of contrition and will avail themselves of the sacrament of reconciliation/Penance at their earliest opportunity? The fact is the carrying on of this tale only casts us all in a bad light.

  167. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    Any Catholic not in a state of serious sin can receive Holy Communion.

    If a man has abused children, goes to confession, performs penance and vows to amend his life, he can receive communion.

    However, if he has abused children, is aware of the seriousness of his sin, but does not go to confession and does not vow to amend his life, he cannot receive communion.

    If a woman is involved in a sexual relationship with someone who is not her spouse, she can go to confession, perform penance, vow to amend her life, and then receive communion.

    However, if she intends to continue that sexual relationship, while fully aware that it is sinful, she is considered to be in a state of mortal sin and should not receive communion.

    One in a state of venial sin can receive communion. Mortal sin, however, is far more serious. To commit a mortal sin, according to the catechism, three conditions must be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

    You can read more about it all right here.

    Dcn. G.

  168. The preist did the wrong thing here, he stood up for truth. Preists should make sure everything goes smoothy so no one is judged or offended.

    Tolerance is of upmost importance

  169. Scout

    Turn on you t.v….watch for an hour…then get back to us on who and what is obsessed with sex.

    If confused after that…shampoo, rinse & repeat again

  170. I see no reason for a public apology and frankly think this is making a Federal Offense out of what is at worst a traffic ticket. The priest was clearly correct in his instincts. This woman should not be receiving Holy Communion unless the discipline and doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church have been reduced to a meaningless joke.

    Was this handled well? No. She should have been spoken to in private and advised not approach the chalice. But she wasn’t. That left the priest in a most unenviable position. Which is worse… causing public embarrassment and hurt feelings, or willfully participating in sacrilege by communing someone known to be living in sin? There are arguments that could go either way on this and I am very glad I did not have to make the decision.

    But the bottom line is that the priest was right on principal, though I concede he made a hash out of the execution of that principal.

  171. There is a time & a place for such attitudes- it is called a Protestant church plz go

  172. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Latest update from WaPo is at this link – which, contrary to an earlier commenter, has a different account of how the priest found out.

  173. Tolerance = compassion = weakness = heretic. Sounds like the same forces at play with the GOP primary doesn’t it?

  174. Vin is prime example of how the Catholic Church would look if we simply got rid of all the teaching, the dogma, the tradition, the canon law, and allowed the secular world to dictate what are we are supposed to believe and formed our consicence after gay and womens rights formed it.

    Wait, that is what the Democrat Obama believes as well.

  175. I think what we need to keep in mind is that the sacrilege involved when a person in a state of unrepentant mortal sin receives is not an assault on Christ; rather, it is in the person pulling down judgment upon themselves.

    It is because of this sort of thing that St. Paul admonishes the Corinthians: “That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.”

    A priest is not really punishing a Catholic whom he turns away! God can handle that all by Himself. But a priest who knows that a potential communicant is in a state of mortal sin yet does not turn them away is negligently subjecting that sinner to God’s wrath.

    And not just that sinner, either. The priest has reason to be concerned for himself, if he does not turn away the publicly and scandalously unrepentant. Remember the principle of the watchman from Ezekiel 33:

    “1 Once again a message came to me from the LORD: 2 “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. 3 When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. 4 Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. 5 They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. 6 But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’

    7 “Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. 8 If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 9 But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself.”

    Seems apropos, don’t you think?

  176. “Seems apropos, don’t you think?”

    No. Not at all.

    Refusing Communion is not the way to give the warning. The warning should be given beforehand, as the Archdiocese of Washington says. It comes first through the ordinary teaching of the Church. Then, in the case of manifest grave sin, the person is warned privately and individually. If the person has been properly warned beforehand and fails to amend, then Communion is to be withheld from a manifest grave sinner, because then the sinner has become obstinate. But refusing to administer Communion is not the sort of warning Ezekiel is talking about.

  177. Jasper —
    There are right ways and wrong ways of “standing up for the truth.” If someone had shot Barbara Johnson because she was in a sinful relationship, I hope you wouldn’t condone it because they were standing up for the truth. If someone had spit in her face or dragged her out of the church, I hope you wouldn’t condone it because they were standing up for the truth. If someone violates her rights under canon law by withholding Communion from her, you shouldn’t condone it because they were standing up for the truth.

  178. The priest, Fr. Marcel, did the right thing. Period. He prevented the grave sin of sacrilege from occurring. The woman’s feelings were hurt? What about the grave scandal that would have occurred if the priest gave her Holy Communion. What about the grave sin of sacrilege by her reception of the Eucharist? The Eucharist is not an entitlement–and we as Catholics have a moral obligation to protect it from such blasphemies. This woman knows the Church’s position on same-sex relationships, it is clear she is living a public life of sin. She set herself up; she is the one to blame, not the priest. It is about time someone stood up for the Truth.

  179. Ms Johnson is and always will be an inspiration to me. First of all, the Catholic Church teaches you to hate the sin, love the sinner. He could have pulled her aside at anytime before the funeral to talk to her, she would have been more than understanding and willing. She has taught me so much and I never even took her class. I am so proud of Ms. J for fighting, not the church, but this priest who went against protocol. I was raised Catholic, but people like this priest and some of the people who have commented on this article are the reason that I am not a part of the Church anymore. Jesus taught you to love your neighbor as yourself, but all I can see is hate. Jesus went against many things written in the Old Testament, yet he is your Lord and Savior. People should think about that. You cannot just pick and choose what you want from the Bible and then force others to do what you want.

  180. Catholics who are already in communion with the Church -the body of people in union with the Lord – recieve the Eucharist to renew ther relationship. It is not an empty ritual or simply a social one.

  181. The priest was right. The daughter knew what the position of the church was. Thank you Father Marcel for treating the Eucharist with the respect the Body of Christ deserves. More priest should have the same courage. I am sorry for Barbara’s loss, but she should have discussed this matter with Father Marcel before the funeral Mass.

  182. Oh dear, someones feelings were hurt because they could not receive communion on their own terms. The priest did that person a favor.

    Sensitive or insensitive has no place in the discussion. It is either right or wrong, and my opinion is we need more priests like him. God bless you Fr Marcel.

  183. To those of you who think this Priest was in ANY WAY right, you should be ashamed. I’m only 18, so I may not know as much about the Catholic religion as, probably, any of you. However, I do know what I was taught at my Catholic high school, which happens to be the same high school this woman taught at. I learned that the Catholic Church understands that you cannot help who you love. Bing, bang, boom. The Church is not anti-gay; it does’t want homosexuals to have sex or to live together for the same reason it does not want straight people to have pre-marital sex or live together before marriage (and if you don’t know why this is, then you need to read the Bible, or go to religion class or something). However, nearly all of you have sex before marriage or have lived with your partner without being married to them! So you have NO right to even think that what this priest did was okay.
    That priest was the only person in the situation who sinned.

  184. naturgesetz
    Straw man arguments don’t fly well among those engaged in civil debate. None of the things you list happened so I am not sure what your point is, beyond distraction from the issue at hand. You mention denial of communion as a violation of her rights under canon law. Please cite which articles of canon law give someone living in unrepentant sin a right to commune The Holy Mysteries of the Altar.

  185. naturgesetz says:

    Ad Orientem —

    My point was that Jasper was being overly simplistic in his argument based on “standing up for the truth.” I was showing, in a way I hoped would make it clear to him — using a reductio ad absurdum, not a straw man — that “standing up for the truth” cannot excuse wrong actions.

    As for your question as to what provision of canon law gives her a right to receive Communion, it’s not that simple. There are two questions: “Does she have a right to receive,” and “May the priest, deacon, or other minister refuse her?” You have to understand that the answer to the second is not automatic when you answer the first. Canon 916 answers the first question: no unrepentant grave sinner may receive Communion. But that canon applies only to the sinner. It confers neither a duty, nor a permission for the minister to withhold the Sacrament. The canon which tells ministers to refuse to admit people to the Sacrament is Canon 915. And Canon 915 dies not apply to all unrepentant grave sinners: for Canon 915 to come into play, there has to be either an excommunication, an interdict, or obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin. Grave sin alone is insufficient for a priest or other minister to refuse admission to the sacrament. The sin must be manifest. But if it takes place behind closed doors, in private, it is hardly manifest. And even if the sin were manifest, unless the individual has been spoken to and informed that the manifest sin will lead to his/her exclusion from the Sacrament and persists in the sin after the warning, the persistence is not obstinate. So one who has sinned gravely but in private cannot legally be excluded under Canon 915, and one who has sinned gravely and manifestly cannot be excluded unless the sin has been obstinately persisted in after the pastor has spoken to the person. That is why the Archdiocese said the priest was wrong and such matters have to be discussed privately.

    In short, if Barbara Johnson has a rightly formed conscience and if she is engaging in unrepented sexual activity with her lover, then she has no right to receive Communion. But that does not automatically mean a priest has the right to refuse to give her Communion if she comes forward to receive.

  186. I can’t believe that so many of you think that the priest was right in his actions. This woman should have had the right to speak at her own mother’s funeral.

  187. Not to muddy the waters too much further but since consent, at least as regards making the decision to marry, is so easily found to be lacking and therefore invalidating with respect to many putative marriages, there seems to be “solid” ground as to presuming the likelihood that most of us are incapable of sufficient reflection with respect to our particular “transgression(s)” to even be in a state of mortal sin at any particular moment, especially when the gravity of the nature of the sin in question should require serious reflection.

    How comforting!

    I feel so warm and fuzzy, almost healed, right now.


  188. Barbara P, said “And you believe God would let himself be treatedcthat way?”

    God let Himself be treated in such a way that he was spit on, tortured, mocked, and crucified. So yes, He allows it because He respects free will.

    You say He could remove His presence from the Eucharist so as not to suffer sacrelige, pointing out Christ could have removed His presence from the Cross. Yet, you ignore the fact that although Christ could have removed His presence from the cross to avoid sacrelige, He didn’t.

    Therefore, your assumption that He removes His presence from the Eucharist is not only baseless, it is actually contradicted by the precedent you cite.

    This bizarre and illogical attitude you’ve assumed that “if someone does it, then it can’t be sacrelige because God allowed it” or to use God’s respect for free will as an excuse to sin against Him is truly sick.

    Knowingly committing sacrelige, especially with regards to the Eucharist in defiance of Church teaching, which a Catholic school teacher must know, makes one guilty of the body and blood of the Lord as St. Paul writes.

    Consuming the Eucharist in a state of unrepentant, practicing homosexuality, of which scriptures clearly forbids, without examining oneself to acknowledge the sin and repent of it through confession is to partake of the Eucharist unworthily. According to scripture, this is to drink damnation unto yourself.

    This is why communion is withheld from those knowingly living in contradiction to Church and Scripture.

    [Commented edited for length -- Ed.]

  189. There is no controversy here… Father Marcel did exactly what he should have done. The teachings of the Church are solid on this matter.

  190. Well said! I just wish the Archdiocese would have backed this up too.

  191. What an excellent priest. He will be in our prayers.

    If only half the bishops would have this kind of courage.

    Having reverence for Christ’s body is WAAAAYYY more important than worrying about feelings.

  192. Kate, if she that woman wanted to speak at her mother’s funeral, she didn’t have to have a Catholic funeral. Or she could have spoken at the burial.

  193. Liz, ugh!
    God help us.


  194. You’re linking to a site titled “Queering the Church,” and you expect us to take you seriously?

    It’s obvious that your REAL objection is not merely to what Fr. Guarnizo did, but Church teaching on homosexuality and homosexual acts.

  195. Amen, Mr. Peters.

    This problem isn’t going away – quite the opposite.

  196. “And you believe God would let himself be treated that way?”

    Well, yes. He let himself be crucified, didn’t He? Man has no power over God EXCEPT for that power which God allows him to have – God has been allowing man to stray from His will and generally muck things up for a very long time now.

  197. What do you mean? That your parish doesn’t share the Church’s teaching on homosexuality? Or that the parish should not have held the funeral mass in the first place?

  198. The archdiocese didn’t say what he committed was a mortal sin. They did say it wasn’t in accord with the archdiocese’s policy on communion.

    As to why the priest became sick, it’s hardly for us to speculate on the cause for that, isn’t it?

  199. “Karl you said “I am glad he refused her communion” which seems to say you are glad Father Marcel Guarnizo denied her the healing love of Jesus Christ through reception of the Holy Eucharist.”

    No, I’m pretty sure it actually seems to say “I’m glad this particular priest did not allow this woman to commit sacrilege by receiving the Body of Christ while in an unworthy state.
    Quible over whether or not the priest could actually know if she was (or indeed, if she actually was) in an unworthy state, or whether or not he could have handled the situation better, but do not confuse the motives of those who wish to see Christ’s body respected. Receiving the Sacrament unworthily is a sin, healing is not what happens – even if the person gets psychological comfort from the act.

  200. Actually, there is no mention of a eulogy or remarks made in the context of the funeral mass. Rather, it is placed at the end of the Vigil Service.

    In practice, I would venture to say, that it’s still more common for a “eulogy” to be delivered at the Mass following communion. My pastoral practice is to have the remarks by the family member delivered immediately after receiving the body, after the sprinkling with holy water / placing of the pall, before the Collect.

    According to our diocesan guidelines, these remarks are to be limited to 5-7 minutes, and delivered by one person (although sometimes the time is shared by more than one person, in reality). I find the placement at the beginning to be helpful on a couple of fronts. First, it removes the “anticipation” that the person speaking experiences throughout the Mass. Once completed, they are free to enter into the prayer of the Mass. Secondly, it does provide a little context regarding the person’s life. Sometimes, in the homily, I can allude to something said in the remarks. Thirdly, in the rare case the someone goes overboard and says something outlandish (stories about unsavory events, etc.) I affords me an opportunity to move the focus back to the liturgy and our faith in God and His mercy. I also ask that the text be written out beforehand.

    Thus far, it’s proved successful as a parish policy and helped to maintain the good order of the liturgy as well as meeting the pastoral needs of the faithful.

  201. “I would rather he talk to them of God’s unconditional love for us and His promise of eternal life.”

    There’s more to the Gospel than just that, Barbara.

  202. To add to the list of “things we cannot know”, what about the dearly departed mom? If I were her, I would have been praying that some courageous priest would finally stand up to my daughter, and begging that my family not be allowed to eulogize me at the funeral Mass.
    In any case, we can all pray for a good outcome. Surely, I count the times that my detours from the Faith were blocked by a priest or bishop who stood firmly in Truth as the greatest blessings of my life. Just as surely, at the time of the “blessing” I was stunned and furious!
    It is possible that this grieving daughter may be just stunned enough to TURN to the teachings of the Church for answers and then be embraced in a special way by Christ Himself. In which case the priest in question is likely to count his sacrifice as well worth the agony. I’m praying.

  203. “…there are millions of Christians who believe that momogamous relationships between people of the same sex are respectable and life giving.”

    And those people would be wrong. Very wrong.

    There is no room for the Church to grow on this question. Its teaching is constant, and has never changed. If there is room for “greater understanding,” it’s only in its pastoral approach in better conveying the teaching, and how to help members of its flock overcome this disordered disposition.

  204. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Finally got to look through the Order of Christian Funerals.

    The ritual says, during the section on the Liturgy of the Word:

    A brief homily based on the readings should always be given at the funeral liturgy, but never any kind of eulogy.

    The ritual also says later on, during the Final Commendation:

    A member or friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased before the final commendation begins.

    Given where these rules are posted, and the wording, it suggests to me that a eulogy or words of remembrance do not belong in place of the homily, but something like that can be included at the end of the liturgy. But the instruction manages to be both clear and a little ambiguous (and, even, contradictory.) Is a “eulogy” a “remembrance”? Length, style and tone are open to interpretation, too.

    In my parish, we have a simple rule: one body/one speaker/three minutes. You get some families who want to have multiple tributes, and it gets to be ridiculous.

    Dcn. G.

  205. “She lives with a woman—happens to be a lesbian—but does or did the priest know whether she was engaging in “inappropriate behavior” with this woman?”

    You’re being too cute by half.

    Johnson represented the woman as her “her partner” to Fr. Guarnizo before the mass. It was quite clear that they were not merely flatmates or sharing rent. They were in an intimate relationship. That’s how she presented herself.

    It may well be that even so it was not in full accord with canon 915 and the archdiocese’s policy on communion for Fr. Guarnizo to deny her on the spot. But if so, it wasn’t because of lack of information about her life and actions. It was that she had not had time to demonstrate persistent sinful conduct after correction.

  206. The priest acted appropriately. This woman who is a lifelong Catholic knows better. The Holy Catholic Church is not Burger King, she doesn’t get to have it her way, and the Holy Eucharist is not given arbitrarily, the body and blood of Christ is His real presence and cannot be defiled by a grave sin if this magnitude. This woman is as immature as she is naiive. Deus Vult.

  207. “However, I do know what I was taught at my Catholic high school, which happens to be the same high school this woman taught at.”

    If you’ve accurately represented what your school taught, it unfortunately explains a great deal about how we came to this pass.

  208. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    naturgesetz or Ed Peters,

    The “obstinate persistence” I get. But assuming obstinate persistence was there, what would constitute a grave sin becoming “manifest” so that Canon 915 would then apply?

  209. No, she has no such right, nor does anyone else.

    In 1989 the Vatican published the revised Order of Christian Funerals (OCF) for the United States. The long-standing prohibition of eulogies at Catholic funerals was again upheld and restated. “A brief homily based on the readings should always be given at the funeral liturgy, but never any kind of eulogy.” [OCF # 141] In the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal promulgated by John Paul II in year 2000 (GIRM 2000), this prohibition of eulogies was again restated: “At the Funeral Mass there should, as a rule, be a short homily, but never a eulogy of any kind.”

    Now, there’s a pastoral way to address this. It’s not inappropriate to permit some remarks before mass, or after the mass, more informally. A eulogy could be given at the wake, or at the funeral home, or at the gravesite after the services are over. And that seems to be what happened here.

    But this has nothing to do with her (sinful) lesbian relationship. Lay eulogies are not allowed at Catholic funerals. When you see one, it’s a violation of Church law. Unfortunately, too many priests have been unwilling to enforce the law, or are even unaware of what the law requires.

    A funeral mass is not about celebrating the life of the deceased. It’s to pray for their salvation. And that salvation is not guaranteed.

  210. Well said, Joanne. Well said.

  211. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    The Order for Christian Funerals does make this directive: “A member or friend of the family may speak in remembrance of the deceased before the final commendation begins.” That is, in effect, a eulogy. And that’s often where I’ve seen it done.

  212. Anthony N. Onimous says:

    Please, someone correct me if I am basing this on false information, but what happened, according to the comments and the story above, is that a mother of an openly-lesbian catholic died and had a funeral mass. The preist was made aware of the grave sins of the daughter right before the mass, and was prevented, by both of the partners, from any attempt to talk with her about it. If that is the case, then there are four major problems I see. 1) Barbara went up for communion. NOTE: the refusal of the sacrament was the correct action under the mentioned circumstances, as mentioned elsewhere. 2) There was a eulogy at the mass. Again, I understand the priest leaving the mass. 3) If, and only if,the priest was not actually sick, then he was wrong to not attend the burial. NOTE: based on the information available, it is probable that he was sick during the eulogy also, and left so as to not get anyone else sick, or so as to not dishonor the dead by losing his lunch in the sacristy. 4) Barbara should not have brought this to the press. The press is always (imagine the previous word is in italics, bold, 72pt. font) looking for anti-Catholic ammo. I would love to be proven wrong in the last sentence, but highly doubt that will happen in my lifetime.

  213. Some of you need to read your Bible and your CCC! per Catholic dogma ” For the worthy reception of the Eucharist the state of grace as well as the proper and pious disposition are necessary”…pretty straight and to the point, this girl is in a state mortal sin according to the church and the Holy Bible, if she wanted to receive communion she should have went to confession and left her girlfriend.
    Just because other people take communion in a state of mortal sin and the priest does not know does not justify the sacrilege, we need more priests like this one.


    I Corinthians 11:27-30
    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. [28] But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. [29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. [30] Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep.

  214. The crisis in the Church is a crisis of the Bishops. The scandal here is not the priest’s actions, but his reprimand by the bishop.

  215. You’ve heard it from a priest? My bishop announced that Sen. Robert Byrd is in heaven.

  216. This is very sad indeed, the woman and her friend, knew what they were doing was wrong and to put it right in the face of the priest, directly before the funeral started, was a childish way to get what they wanted. Her mother deserved her daughter to grieve and celebrate her funeral mass. The church doesnt owe her or her lover communion. Its a sacrament, and any catholic knows the rules. For her, she can still attend mass but must privately pray that the holy spirit bless her in her heart only because she knows that its wrong to recieve communion when in a state of sin. She doesnt have to like it, but she does have to follow it, if she wants to remain in the catholic church. The church is not the place to fight out your “life choices” everyone knows where the church stands and honestly, the woman is not the victim here, her mother and the priest are the victims.

    [Edited to remove factual inaccuracy. -- Ed.]

  217. If you consider the early days of the church when the Mass was split into the Mass of the catachumens and the Mass of the faithful, it’s pretty clear that the early teaching had to be to prevent people that the apostles didn’t know were faithful from receiving Christ in Communion. It seems to me that this was a challenge thrown in the face of the priest. He acted correctly in my opinion.
    A priest giving communion to someone he doesn’t know is in the state of mortal sin is one thing but, a priest who gives communion to someone he has just been told lives in mortal sin is as guilty as the one receiving.
    The priest should never nave been reprimanded. He should be commended.

  218. I do not think the priest did anything evil or wrong at all. He was put in a very tricky situation in that the publicly active lesbian Barbara Johnson announced to him before mass that she was publicly living in a state of objective mortal sin. It seems to me that he had to consider the rights of his parishioners not to be scandalized. Ms. Johnson should have been prepared for his probable rejection of her request for communion after the apparently hasty and rude introduction she made to him of herself and her partner before mass in the sacristy. Under the circumstances, she should have known to just gracefully cross her arms as a sign of appropriately wanting his public blessing at her Mother’s funeral which I am sure he would have given, unconditionally. Obviously, the Archdiocese has a broad policy meant to protect the rights of; all of us poor, “private,” sinners that appeared to be technically breached but in my opinion there was no foul here on the part of the good Padre’. I will consider it a; perhaps minor, injustice and a shame if the Archdiocese does not reconsider and back-up this apparently good priest.

  219. As to this funeral imbroglio, I believe it’s too sadly true that a lot of Catholics are teachers of the Faith & yet are WOEFULLY IGNORANT as to her teachings regarding the gay question. But the kicker to the whole thing is the backstory provided that the grieving lady’s “partner” BLOCKED THE PRIEST’S WAY so that he couldn’t counsel her as to the SINFULLNESS of her relationship with said “partner.” And the priest was WELL WITHIN HIS RIGHTS, I believe, to refuse the woman Holy Communion; after all it IS the BODY, BLOOD, SOUL & DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST PRESENT IN THE EUCHARIST we’re discussing here. GOD BLESS ALL, MARKRITE

  220. I’m just wondering how it important it is to be discussing this issue while Kathleen Seblius and Nancy Pelosi are still coming to communion.

  221. Good for him. Would that this would happen more often for all people living openly in mortal sin.

  222. It doesn’t matter at what time the priest learned of this lady’s sexual relationship with another woman. The point is that the priest knew of it at the time of Communion and was bound to refuse her. As many others have stated, if this woman has been so involved in the Catholic Church and even taught in a Catholic school, her cries of “foul” are nothing more than an act for gay rights. Period. When was the last time she went to confession?

  223. Joseph Mazzara says:

    @Ed Peters

    What is your precise definition for “manifest?” And on what are you basing that definition? I don’t mean quote the canons you quote at your link (, particularly 1330 and 1340, because I don’t think they convey enough to ensure univocal understanding of the term.

    If you give a lot of commentors who say, “The Priest was right, the priest was right!” the benefit of the doubt, and believe they are reading the canons you quote, then the difference in interpretation seems to me to be centered around the definition of manifest. Manifest to all in the community, to some in the community, and if some, then what percentage of that some constitutes enough to claim a sinful act is manifest? Or does it have to be a percentage of a specific group in that community, say our priests?

    That’s what I think the issue is here. Most believe Barbara made her situation manifest before Mass. The priest iterated before communion who could not present themselves to communion. She presented herself nontheless, making her obstinate.

  224. Joseph Mazzara says:

    That should read: “Does manifest mean known to all in the community, or some in the community? If some, then what percentage of that some constitutes enough to claim the grave sinful act is manifest?”

  225. WHY did this person want the Eucharist in the first place? The Eucharist is NOT a party favor! It’s the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ – the same Jesus Christ who founded the Catholic Church, gave the leadership to Peter, and granted the power to bind and loose — and that Church as bound that homosexual acts are sinful. The same Jesus Christ who, along with the Church, instructs sinners to (1) repent, and (2) to “go and sin no more”.

    Barbara Johnson obviously does not believe in the Catholic Church’s teachings. That’s her free choice. But her disbelief means that she is not in communion with the Church, and it means that taking the Eucharist would be a desecration, a sacrilege of our most holy sacrament. If she doesn’t like it, then she needs to either stop sinning and enter into full communion with the Church, or accept that her sin (whether or not she agrees that it IS a sin, because the issue here is not her beliefs but the Church’s teachings) precludes her from participating in the sacrament regardless of the circumstances.

  226. A point of clarity, above – when I say, “The Eucharist is not a party favor,” I did not meant to imply or state that the funeral in question was any sort of party. I apologize if it came across that way. I meant that the celebration of the Eucharist is not a party favor that is handed out to all participants.

  227. Thanks for answering the question.

  228. Do you know of any priest that is presently a manifest child abuser or that was one and has not repented? If yes you must first report them to the police and then to their bishop? If the answer is no than you are just building a huge strawman.

  229. Hello Deacon Greg,

    Thanks for the reply.

    The problem is: How do we reconcile the OCF with the GIRM’s prohibition on eulogies?

    I agree with you that in practice, this has often amounted to a eulogy. And that happens a lot. But the GIRM pretty clearly indicates that a eulogy is not appropriate.

    My concern is that too often, as Ed Peters rightly notes, these “eulogies” often amount to transforming the funeral mass into a canonization for the deceased, rather than an occasion to pray for their soul.

    There’s a time and a place for eulogies (I would argue), and it is not at the mass.

  230. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I agree, it’s confusing and unclear. And I do think the premature canonizations are a little ridiculous and self-indulgent.

    But: good luck conveying the “no eulogy” rule to the faithful — especially when the OCF clearly says they are entitled to some words of remembrance at the end of Mass.

    Funerals are often overwhelmed by sentimentality and emotion anyway; I recall the kerfuffle that ensued when one diocese prohibited the playing of “Danny Boy” at funerals.

    Dcn. G.

  231. If given a choice, I’d rather offend a lesbian than Jesus. Though I love my sisters and brothers, I love Jesus more. You have my sympathy for the loss of your Mother, but not for the insult you imagine you suffered at the altar of God.

  232. It is because preist like this that I became to know and love Christ more as he loved me. We talk so much about Christ love as he surely has for us, but do we really love him? God says if you love me keep my commandments, pretty clear there, no need to go protestant on that and make up your own interpretation. I was one that was living in sin for a number of years and my parish priest told me it was okay, god loves me no matter what, and still permitted me to take communion. But years later, when I moved, the parish priest was a bit more “strict” so to say and he told me I am living in grave sin, and at first I was very relunctant and got to a point where I even hated him for not allowing me communion, but that helped me question my state of grace and search more for truth and after long search, finally able to marry in the church. God Bless these priests as speaking the truth is not easy, especially if you say it to someone like me, who was blinded by my sin and instead seeked vengeance to those trying to save my soul.

  233. It is interesting how many people talk about pastoral duties vs. laws and other priestly obligations. Pastoral duty implies that the priest is the shepherd and we are the stupid and smelly flock of sheep. If you disagree with the stupid and smelly concept spend time with a real flock of sheep and you will see what I mean. The shepherd is there to protect the flock and to ensure that it is well kept. If you are going to see how shepherds work you will see that sometime they are gentle and sweet toward the newborn lamb but you will also see how hard they can appear on some of the animals that endanger themselves and the rest of the stupid flock that follows along. Being Pastoral it is not about being nice it is about doing right. However, when you spend time looking at shepherds you must also notice that they have their stupid moments and thus sometime they use unnecessary roughness with some of the stupid and smelly animals. Such roughness is not a preferred discipline but it arises from frustration, tiredness and ignorance, shepherds are human beings too. When I look at this case I see a shepherd handling a flock of smelly and stupid sheep. Was he rough? Yes! Frustrated? Probably yes! Ignorant? I do not know!

  234. The priest acted appropriately in refusing Holy Communion. The woman admitted her sin of fornication in the Sacristy before the service began. This implies full knowledge that her relationship was contrary to Church law.

    Persons who are fornicating, no matter what their sexual orientation, should not approach Holy Communion. St. Paul is very clear on this in 1 Corinthian; this is not a new teaching nor a teaching which can be changed.

    To sin willfully and then to demand the Sacraments while in a state of obstinate mortal sin is inappropriate no matter what the situation.

  235. I don’t have my Bible in front of me, so I hope I’m correct in what I recall, but wasn’t it St. Paul who warned about the condemnation that is brought about by receiving the Eucharist unworthily? If a priest is made to know that someone is in a state of mortal sin, how can he give them Communion without committing a sin himself? And how can he handle the matter in private, when the situation is at hand, in public? He had no choice. A person’s feelings can never come before the respect due to our Lord. I applaud this priest for doing the right thing knowing full well what was likely to occur as a result of it. No wonder he was sick!

  236. GOD BLESS THIS HOLY PRIEST!!!! He did the right and loving thing. It is not loving to allow a person not only to stay in mortal sin, but to also receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord in that state, and thus consume more condemnation. She is sick and the priest has given her the opportunity to take up her cross, live chastely, and be healed. She refused the medicine and now seeks vengeance, which is the height of hypocrisy on her part.

    The priest was right and loving. She was wrong and hateful. End of story. Pray for everyone involved.

    But also pray that this becomes common!!!

  237. I feel like the priest did the right thing. GOOD JOB!! *****I know that we do not know the full story; that being said….. I am disturbed that this woman is ALLOWED to teach in a Catholic School.

    I am very glad that our family has chosen to home school!

    We need to take a stronger stance as the BODY OF CHRIST against those who choose to flaunt the teachings of the Church.

  238. While I’ve heard multiple discussions about whether Ms. Pelosi should be refused communion, told that she cannot receive communion, etc., I have NOT seen any first-hand testimony that she has presented herself for communion recently.

    If she has been told IN PRIVATE that she may not receive communion, and she IN FACT does not present herself for communion, then it’s none of OUR business.

    If anyone has some credible evidence that Ms. Pelosi has been presenting herself for communion, then that is a problem. A lack of PUBLIC denunciations of her is not.

  239. I am with the priest and applaud his actions. He should have also let her know she should not give an eulogy, but she might have lost it at that point. Of course most of the liberal minded, “cafeteria Catholics” will condemn him for doing what was right. It would have been just as right to withhold Communion from someone “shacking up” but then half the parish might have been denied. Maybe it is time for Bishops to say: “if you are living with someone, a practicing homosexual, if you miss Mass every Sunday, use contraceptives, etc. you should not receive Holy Communion. That would cause a rebellion since nobody thinks they are sinners these days.

  240. [Comment has been removed at the author's request -- Ed.]

  241. There seems to an eye witness that no one is either willing to believe or has failed to read. It was reported that the lady went into the Priest’s office to make her statement and left before the priest had a chance to have that “talk”. Also, are we sure it was a eulogy or simply a statement after Holy Communion that has been incorrectly labelled a eulogy. If I was a Priest and this happened to me I would be very sick over the incident. I cannot imagine the anquish the the Priest was going through. Doing the right thing to the best of our conscience is rarely an easy thing to do when it involves the public and how we might be percieved. I think we are making judgements on the Priest and perhaps the lady without enough evidence. I am reminded of the witnesses to a gang rape in New York some years ago in which no one called the police.

  242. Could someone explain how this priest was reprimanded? Was he?

  243. Yes, the best response to dealing with a Catholic with whom you disagree is to encourage that Catholic to leave the Church. Galileo didn’t leave when his experience went contrary to Vatican teaching, and I hope Ms. Johnson doesn’t either.
    Read the comments below from the young people who are leaving the Church. It’s not because they doubt the Gospel message, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist or any other essentials of the Catholic faith. They’re leaving because they see a giant disconnect between real-llife experience and the messages the hierarchy is choosing to emphasize these days.
    I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit has blessed Ms. Johnson’s decades-long relationship with her partner — as firmly as I believe that the Earth revolves around the sun.

  244. I am a Lutheran Deacon and I totally agree with the Priest’s actions. It is about time that peoples stand up for their beliefs. People living an open, unrepentent lifestyle should not be allowed to partake in Holy Communion.

  245. Ed- Bullseye!! seems diocese of washington has a policy of violating canon 915- Note Pelosi , Biden all most welcome to Holy Communion in that cesspool of a capitol.

    woe to all of us….. St. Paul would not be too pleased with the goings on me thinks….

  246. Karl- you are spot on correct- hats off to you for knowing and defending the Faith, better than most others commentators herewith… including those identified as clergy……. ‘ what does it profit a woman to be accepted socially or at a funeral and lose her immortal soul??

    there are higher takes invovded here than just public acceptance.

  247. see 915 on the first question – ask cardinal wuerl the latter question.

  248. Fran…… you’d rather the Divine Majesty be insulted than a self admitted practicing sodomite be exposed for what she is-
    explain it to me again , real slow…….

    you are disgusted, huh? i’ll not convey what emotion your comment precipitated but it sounded like they were emptying the balloons after the macy’s Tday parade

  249. Fr. Marcel seems to be a great priest who loves the Sacraments and Faith more than the Archdiocese of Washington.

    The Archdiocese of Washington is clearly more concerned with their political image and the feelings of a public lesbian than the souls of the Faithful and non-Faithful.


  250. Probably there is more to the story than we realize. And it is a horrible situation, since the people were grieving, whether in sin or not. BUT it sounds like the priest was motivated by nothing other than concern that he would be knowingly giving communion to a person who was unquestionably in mortal sin, in a situation in which he did not have any time or opportunity to have a private conversation? In any case, the priest should get the benefit of the doubt unless there is some reason not to.

    What is he supposed to do, in a case where he is sure there is unrepented mortal sin? Just help her commit sacrilege by giving her communion anyway, and then telling her later that it was wrong and the her receiving Him was a sin? That doesn’t seem right.

  251. what was the net result with the moneyy changers then DcDon- better tell trhas tRaboni he better not go around whipping people and ruining their livelihoods- and all they were doing was turning His Fathers house into a den of thieves- this woman was allgedley was dammind herself ” St. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29. he warns, [ if] we receive the sacrament unworthily, and we “eateth and drinketh damnation” to ourselves.

  252. Thank you Wesley.
    God Bless

  253. Pete McNesbitt says:

    I have more problems with the good father not attending the grave side service because he felt sick. Their Mother, no doubt thought Father would attend her graveside service. And just what is the point of saying “Lord I am not worthy to accept you under my roof but only say the word and I shall be healed” are we not to believe that the Lord will not forgive us at that point?

  254. “[Edited to remove factual inaccuracy. -- Ed.]”

    Great. A decon who decides what is a factual inaccuracy by deletion.

    How about simply leaving a reply or blocked off editorial comment and letting the rest of us know you’re at least open and honest.


    [It was a misrepresentation of Church teaching and it's easier to just delete rather than try to explain. -- Ed.]

  255. Brenda Sparks says:

    The priest was correct and he defended the Holy Eucharist. Praise be to God that we STILL have a few priests that will defend the Holy Eucharist!

  256. when in doubt, don’t-

  257. Dr. Vincent,

    Good on you to write a thoughtful letter … and for posting it here. What you wrote calls to mind MTD (“moralistic therapeutic deism”), a term that was coined around 2005 or 2006 by two academics who conducted a Lilly Endowment-funded study of religious attitudes and practices of younger Americans. I’m sure you are aware of their work, the term, and the phenomenon.

    The authors of the study concluded among other thngs that a significant part of Christianity in the US is only tenuously Christian in any sense and, in any event, wholly un-connected from historical Christian tradition. We see the fruits of this in the incident involving Barbara Johnson — a baptized Catholic, practicing Buddhist and open lesbian — and the well-meaning Fr. Guarnizo.

  258. HH- St. Paul tells us what He would do- in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29. he warns, [ If] we receive the sacrament unworthily, and we “eateth and drinketh damnation” to ourselves.

    Who do you think does the Damning, Holly- ?? Oh Good Lord, free from Calvinists who do not recognize Your Majesty or Magesterium…

  259. Jesus has no patients for SELF Righteous. He wants our lives to overflow with righteousness. Are you Catholic? The Catholic Church is not a social club.
    The priest was defending the Eucharist. The woman is living a lesbian lifestyle. If she wants to receive communion, she can go to confession and make on honest attempt to live a chaste lifestyle. The same is true if a man and woman are living together as “lovers”.

  260. Those relationships may — may — be committed, but they are incapable of being chaste. Chastity is the state of reserving one’s sexual faculties for marriage.

  261. guilty, and need to prove their innocence? – right Bishops?

  262. Liz, you are confused.

    the Catholic Church understands that you cannot help who you love.

    But you can help whom you screw around with. Being only 18, you may find this hard to believe, but love and marriage do not always coincide. Unmarried people in love have no right to a sex life till they’re married. Married people who happen to fall in love with someone else don’t thereby acquire a license to commit adultery.

    nearly all of you have sex before marriage

    Possibly true. Certainly irrelevant.

  263. maybe deacons . should give them better catechises ?

  264. Does the Order for Christian Funerals carry the same legal weight as the GIRM? Somehow I doubt it, Deacon. Moreover, no one has a right to hijack the liturgy and scandalize the faithful. If you routinely seen eulogies, you routinely see just that.

    The people of God aren’t served when “words of remembrance” dissolve into an apotheosis or a sob fest — or both. They aren’t served when unedifying and impertinent narratives and doctrinal novelties of breath-taking inventiveness are shoved in the faces of those who’ve come out of respect and Christian charity.

  265. No one but the priest has the right to speak at a funeral. Family are allowed if the pastor permits to say a few words of remembrance. Eulogies are not allowed in the Catholic funeral rites but sadly they have been allowed. They belong at the wake or luncheon not at the mass. They are usually poorly prepared, poorly delivered and painful to listen to.

  266. I beg your pardon; no one has a RIGHT to receive the Lord. What part of “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” don’t you understand?

  267. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I suspect it does carry significant weight. It’s quoted and cited several times in the Catechism, including a section on the funeral homily.

  268. How could a Priest walk out on a funeral?
    How could that priest jugde the heart of that poor woman that was denied communion and a proper burial?
    How could that Priest judge her? Only our Lord can do that!
    I hope and pray the priest regrets the horrible act he commited and asks forgiveness during his confession.
    The priest should be removed from the Church; I am afraid he will do this again!

  269. “A lack of PUBLIC denunciations of her is not.”

    Ummmm, only insofar as it gives great scandal to the faithful.

  270. From the contents of the story, it appears as if the Priest was forced to make a Management decision especially when Barbara’s “lover” blocked him from speaking to her. I say…God bless this Priest for protecting our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, not to mention himself if he were to serve Communion to someone he knew was in a state of Mortal Sin.
    I find it somewhat ironic though that Barbara was more concerned about the content of her Mother’s Funeral (her Eulogy celebrating her Mother’s life) than accepting the fact that she was living in a state of Mortal Sin (death of the Soul/eternal damnation), oblivious (or defiant) to the teachings of the church…especially due to her Catholic upbringing.
    Perhaps this was a sign from her departed Mother to shine light on her living situation in an effort to help change her ways.

  271. it seems to me that to have any serious comment on this event one needs to know more about what happened immediately after the priest was told that Ms J’s friend was her partner (and perhaps was brazenly told her lover as well). It has been alleged that when the priest tried to discuss this with her she purposely left & her “partner” blocked the priest- if that occured then I think he may have been right to deny her eucharist- she seemed obstinate & determined not to confess etc. That event seems critical to discuss the merits of the case. But if he did not have more evidence of her obstinacy and her obvious disregard for the Church, then he probably should not have denied her communion.

  272. “But: good luck conveying the “no eulogy” rule to the faithful — especially when the OCF clearly says they are entitled to some words of remembrance at the end of Mass.”

    Really Deacon? Good luck? Isn’t this exactly one of your responsibilities? To teach the Faithful what it means to eulogize someone and why the Magisterium says that the Homily is to “never” eulogize the departed.

    I am familiar with the GIRM, and the OCF, and there is no “problem” reconciling the two.

    What I see are poorly formed religious whose desire for affirmation is greater than their love of the Scaraments and the Faith.

    In short, weak men and women who are willing to face the crowd when it comes to fighting for their Social Justice idols, but not when it comes to the Faith.

    We have a priesthood, and religious, filled with effiminate men and feminist nuns who are un-faithful to the Faith.

    That’s the problem Deacon. Not reconciliation of understanding between the OCF and GRIM!


  273. @Liz

    re “I was taught at my Catholic high school, which happens to be the same high school this woman taught at.” & “That priest was the only person in the situation who sinned.”
    - I’m sorry Liz, but it is clear you were taught [formed] very, very poorly.

    re “So you have NO right to even think that what this priest did was okay.”
    - Actually Liz, we have a responsibility to speak out against those who say what the priest did was wrong.

    But you did get the “same reason” part about pre-marital sex and homosexual behavior pretty close to right.


  274. Really, isnt that what you are called to do? And no where did I imply that you had to explain what was wrong, a brief form of “sic” would suffice.

    Too bad we cant delete when you do the same.


  275. Spot on Fred.

  276. I read the whole story and the priest was justified in denying her communion, she went back to the sacristy introduced her partner as her lover, the priest told her not to present herself for communion and she did anyway.

  277. @Dd & “UPDATE III: Canon lawyer Ed Peters — a frequent commenter on this post — has weighed in on his own blog: ”

    Classic. Esq Ed wont allow comments on his blog….

    A lot of assumptions went into Ed’s characterization of Fr. Marcel, and a lot of benefits of the doubt for a woman who seems to have lived her lesbianism in a public and objectively obstinant way.

    That same kind of lawyering of Cannon Law is what contributed greatly to allowing the Bishops to hide homosexual abuses by priests.

    The Faithful are rightly angered and rightly belowing like The Dumb Ox.


  278. I call BS. The peanut gallery has NO RIGHTS AT ALL. Especially no right to be scandalized when a bishop exercises his duty to chastise a member of the faithful in private, thereby frustrating the combox rabble’s prurient curiosity.

    Ed Peters has explained pretty clearly all over this thread that the Church considers itself obliged to escalate such matters slowly, deliberately, and that any actions taken in public must be taken only as a last resort when all lesser measures have been exhausted.

    Ms. Pelosi has reportedly had private meetings with one or both of her bishops. (Practically speaking, she lives in both San Francisco and Washington.) We are not privy to those discussions. To take “great scandal” over a course of events which you have simply imagined is itself a sin.

  279. Clare Krishan says:

    The parish bulletin has this clanger :
    Wednesday, February 22nd is Ash Wednesday –
    Holy Day of Obligation
    There will be no Religious Formation Classes on
    Tues. Feb. 21st and Wed. Feb. 22nd . Don’t forget to
    attend Mass on Wednesday night!

    Ash Wednesday IS NOT and never was a holy day of obligation, its a freely-chosen devotional celebration of the sacrifice of the Holy Mass and if not so freely chosen NOT A SIN – Lord save us from the clanging gong “natural law is simple crowd” – for Heavens sake! No its not , or if it was, the Incarnation and passion of our Lord would have been supperfluous to requirements to just be logical. (IMHO perhaps another couple of clerics who are borderline Aspergers: seriously handicapped by social ineptitude that is congenital, ie they are totally self-unaware of their deficits in the human empathy department).

    Sin makes ya’ stupid, me thee, and you too, Fr. LaHood (Fr Marzel’s pastor at SJN)… sad sad sad.

  280. I’ve had a look at the OCF. Unless I’m mistaken, the text insists on a distinction between eulogies (not allowed) and a brief commemoration (allowed):

    “Ad homiliam vero complendam, per quam fidei mysteria sunt in primis illustranda nec panegyricus defuncti peragi debet, adstantibus dari potest brevis textus, in quo vita fratris vel sororis commemoretur.”

    Eulogies are even more firmly forbidden in the GIRM.

  281. No Fr Hayden the priest did not assume, he spoke with miss barbara and she told him about her lover . That is not hearsay with all respect.

  282. Jesus woul say to Barbara go and sin NO MORE.

  283. You are so right Kenny.

  284. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    On the other hand…

    The parish has 24-hour perpetual adoration every day, offers Mass every Sunday in the Extraordinary Form, has daily praying of the rosary, and gives numerous opportunities — seven days a week — to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The parish also offers Morning Prayer six days a week, and has a special Mass for First Friday.

    They seem to be doing a lot of things right.

    Dcn. G.

  285. …whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me…

  286. My sister is gay and I know how destructive homosexuality has been to my sister. Father Marcel did the right thing in spirit, if not by the letter of the Law.
    He sounds like a good priest. Pray for this courageous priest. Pray for the wisdom of his supperiors who will deal justly with this courageous priest. Now from one who witnesses the moral destruction wrought by homosexuality in my sister, please meet Fr. Michael Rodríguez, who on January 31, 2012 addressed the to El Paso City Council regarding homosexuality. He is not afraid to speak the truth.

    ……In the middle of our dark, secular, godless society, there is a light. This light is the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Jesus Christ and His Church teach the truth about homosexuality, and we can summarize this truth in three points:

    (1) Homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity; they are mortal sins which cry to heaven for vengeance. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    (2) Homosexuality is an objective disorder.

    (3) Homosexual persons are to be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.

    In the debate over homosexuality, the dark side seeks to frame the issue as one of discrimination and civil rights. This makes no logical sense. No one has a civil right to do something morally wrong. I don’t have a right to steal. I don’t have a right to lie. I don’t have a right to commit adultery, and I don’t have a right to engage in homosexual acts. As for discrimination, discrimination exists when one is against a person not when one is against actions on the part of a person. The Roman Catholic Church condemns actions of a homosexual nature. She does not discriminate against homosexual persons.

    Thus, before anyone speaks about discrimination and/or civil rights, the following questions must be answered:

    (1) Do you believe in right and wrong?

    (2) How do you determine what is right and what is wrong?

    (3) Does society have an obligation to establish law and order in accordance with its
    best effort to determine right and wrong?

    Thus, before anyone speaks about discrimination and/or civil rights, the following question must be answered:

    (1) Are homosexual acts right or wrong?

    If a Catholic does not believe and hold fast to the truth that homosexual acts are wrong, one is no longer Catholic. Such a “Catholic” must REFRAIN from receiving our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion, because one is no longer in communion with the moral truths taught by Jesus Christ and His Church.

    In conclusion, no one on the face of this earth has a greater love for homosexuals that the glorious Roman Catholic Church. But it is never loving to lie. If you lie to homosexuals and tell them that “homosexual acts are o.k,” then you are the one who is showing disdain for homosexuals, because you don’t care about their true good, happiness, and salvation.

    Sancta Dei Genetrix, ora pro nobis.

  287. I applaud the priest! He did what was right, the only sad point to this is there are more that don’t do what he did.

  288. Clare Krishan says:

    Not all of us are as impressed by rigorous traditionalists, cassock-wearing fan of Neo-of-Matrix-fame-sunglasses just like
    when they play God with the souls in their care – those of us who are pre-regularise dmarriage, post-abortive or have occiasion to celebrate the sacraments with family where our pre-regularized or post-abortive relatives are invited (a wedding or a funeral) to pray with us at our Lord altar, don’t appreciate his minster Lording it over us. Leroy Carhart is a bad man, not a doctor I agree with Fr. Marcel’s video testimony (found online) but he leaves multiple victims in his midst scattered across every family, equally predominantly Catholic families, and the RadTrad way is not the non-plus ultra for the majority of lost sheep the Church has been called to gather in. I attend 40 days for life vigils, but not when the confrontational macho element show up with their ‘patriotic’ rosary pamphlets quoting the wise words of our secular leaders. I prefer the saints and silence and shared sadness. Sorry for venting in Lent, but the Fr. Pavone-clones have to take responsibility for their choices to put themselves on the forefront of the culture wars, without adequate preparation or humility. I will prayer for the priest – perhaps he can invite Ms Johnson to join him at the 7-session bereavement counseling his parish offers? Or better yet ask for a 1-session mediated meeting with her and Card. Wuerl to clear the air.

  289. It is about time the Catholic Church stood up against those who openly oppose Catholilc teaching and live an immoral life. The priest would have been wrong had he given her Communion knowing what he did under the circumstances.
    I say God Bless him for having the Faith to do so.
    Now if only all priests throughout the world would refuse Communion to supposed catholics who promote and support abortions, like Nancy Polosi for one, (late Ted Kennedy for another), it would regain the lost confidence us Catholics had in our leadership. They still have a long way to go.
    God help us.

  290. @Mark about your remarks about Kennedy’s funderal and others concerned about eulogies at Mass” At the funeral Mass of Cardinal Bevilaqua his long time friend. a monsignor, gave a long eulogy in celebration of his life.

  291. Clare Krishan says:

    No No NO ……In the middle of our dark, secular, godless society, there is a light. This light is the Holy Roman Catholic Church. D’ya see what I mean Deacon? Idolatry of the office and the powers vested in the officeholders, secularism writ large.
    We’re merely the receptacle for the light, Jesus Christ is the Light. Hopefully we’re immaculately formed, prepared and maintained like a paralax perfect prism on a lighthouse, (or a Hubble telescope — for that is what clerics who have an inflated idea of their position in the natural subsidiarity of activist ministry on the evangelism of every other Catholic who is a member of the same receptacle, powered by the same mysterious gift of sanctifying Grace channeled in reception of the sacraments) reflecting that light to the obscuring fog all around us, but sadly sometimes we’re the source of the fog – our hot, heaving breathing condenses on the glass or our clammy sweaty palms smear the mirrors, and PRESTO scandal of a far greater pain and confusion among the faithful than would have occurred with a little mature patient reflexive thought and reliance on firm conviction of the Holy Spirit, rather than a gut instinct informing the senses subliminally and disordering the intellect (Aquinas) contrary to right reason, but most importantly charity.

    Canon law is where this problem lies, but pastorally is where the problem hits home. This woman would be only guilty (if she had received – which she didn’t, so she’s culpable) of the same sacrilege against the Eucharist that occurs on most Sunday’s in most Catholic parishes all up and down the land, contracepting spouses, poorly catechized boomers who haven’t a clue what Real Presence means, folks who worship once a month but never confess the lapses, folks who haven’t received absolution in years… the list goes on. The altar would be a lonely place for the concelebrant if they were all as knuckle-headed as Fr Marcel.

  292. Jim from Utah says:

    I like how in Eastern Catholic churches you can’t even receive the Eucharist unless you are known by the parish and the priest not to be in good-standing.

    It is interesting how in the West it is an expectation that a perfect stranger can walk up… In Cairo can’t even get into a church unless you have the tattoo on your arm proving that you are not a Muslim.

    Deal with it.

  293. Clare Krishan says:

    I know, because my husband who is not Catholic (and does not receive ) is incredulous at those who do… he has such a hard time with it (tried RCIA, namby pampy wish wash) that he prefers protecting his ‘idea’ of the perfect reception to actually joining the church, getting in line with the fellow sinners he’s not so fond of and receiving. (We spent years in corporate real estate litigation, and won at State supreme level, with a now-deceased notorious living-in-sin divorced fellow parishioner, wishing him the sign of peace was not easy each Sunday I know all about carrying crosses believe me)

  294. Clare Krishan says:

    I prayed for his soul, announced from the altar the Sunday of the week he died as the intention — the Christmas vigil liturgy — I’m so glad my husband wasn’t with me (we planned to take his Episcopalian mom to her Christmas Day Services) I know he may have gotten up and left so difficult to swallow is the manifest sin of others to those of us afflicted with pride! But we try, we realy have to try to see ourselves in the same light – as Christ sees us.

  295. “The altar would be a lonely place for the concelebrant if they were all as knuckle-headed as Fr Marcel.”
    - Really, such high standards you set. You choose the primacy of popularity before the Altar over protecting the presence and primacy of the Sacred Sacrament of the Bloodless Crucifixtion of Our Lord Christ in the Sanctuary….

    Canon Law is not the problem, pastoral protection of the Sacrament and of the Faith is.

    Nor Clare, your sappy waxing aside, are we merely receptacles of Christ.

    There are so many knuckle-heads drawn to the colors and flames of Satan’s rainbow cast across the culture by lighthouse prisms, Hubble telescopes and other such symbolic sappiness of the subsidiaries of “activist ministry”…. one is left to ask do they know Charity is not the charity of man and Caesar?

  296. “His idea”, well, he shares a common idol that separates many from the Faith and the Church.

    “(We spent years in corporate real estate litigation, and won at State supreme level, with a now-deceased notorious living-in-sin divorced fellow parishioner, wishing him the sign of peace was not easy each Sunday I know all about carrying crosses believe me)”
    - Wow, what a heavy crosses you carry. I’m sure Peter will be duly impressed and move you right to the head of the line past those who face the little things like the murder of loved ones, sexually abused children, and the like.

    Please Clare, please tell us how we are so unfair to defend a priest who defends the body of Our Lord from those who consider their crosses by real estate litigation and the right to publically and obstinantly live a life style the Magisterium has taught to be objectively and gravely disorderd.

    Please Clare, tell us of the rains you have stood against in the fields and the rainbows you have seen after standing against such storms.

    Please oh Clare, tell us.

  297. They offer confession seven days a week? Wow!! Here in NYC, I know the St. Francis Assisi parish down by Penn Station offers it daily, and that has been a big help to me at times. Kudos to this parish for making it available that frequently.

  298. that poor woman that was denied communion and a proper burial?

    Um, Jacob? We don’t give Communion to dead people.

  299. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    “Dr” Vincent,

    I seriously question your ability to provide mental health care consistent with State of Connecticut guidelines and with guidelines specified by BCBS, Signa etc. People who go to you go to you for medical treatment, not for you to instruct them on CCD teachings. You aren’t a priest. And your patients aren’t your flock. Even if they are nominally Catholic, they aren’t yours to tell them that they are mortally in sin as a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL (as it appears you just admitted you did in the above letter). And I shudder to think of what you say to Gay patients or persons that come from non-Christian backgrounds. Wow. Just Wow. I’m concerned for your patients.

  300. No, Pete. The “Lord I am not worthy” is a fine prayer, but it is not the sacrament of reconciliation, and confers no right or reason to consider ourselves absolved of sin. If you have been deceiving yourself on this score, you need to know the truth.

  301. It doesn’t make it right.


  1. [...] to have ‘first hand’ knowledge, responding to somebody being critical of the priest, comments on the [...]

  2. [...] 28th, 2012 by Deacon Greg KandraA 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. [...]

  3. [...] Maryland priest denies communion to lesbian at funeral — UPDATED It’s been an extremely difficult week for Barbara Johnson — perhaps the most difficult week of her life. It all started on Saturday at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, where friends and family had gathered to say goodbye to Barbara’s mother, who died last week after a brief illness. Just a few minutes before the funeral began, Father Marcel Guarnizo, who was presiding over the service, apparently learned that Barbara was involved in a romantic relationship with another woman. A lifelong Catholic and former Catholic school teacher, Barbara says she hadn’t even considered that her sexual orientation would be a problem with Father Marcel until she stepped forward to take communion. “He said, ‘I can not give you communion because you live with a woman,” Barbara says. Though shaken by Father Marcel’s actions, Barbara says she tried to compose herself to give her mother the dignified funeral she deserved. So a few minutes later, Barbara began her eulogy. “At which time Father Marcel left the altar and didn’t return until I finished my eulogy,” Barbara says. According to Barbara, things got even worse, because after first refusing to give her communion, and then walking off the altar when Barbara was giving her eulogy, Father Marcel refused to go with Barbara’s mother’s body to the cemetery in Aspen Hill. Barbara says she was told that Father Marcel had suddenly become ill. In a written statement, the Archdiocese of Washington conceded that Father Marcel had acted improperly, saying, “Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.” Read more. UPDATE: The Washington Post has now picked up the story: Messages left for [Father] Guarnizo were not immediately returned, and archdiocesan officials declined to answer questions about what actually happened. “In matters of faith and morals, the Church has the responsibility of teaching and of bringing the light of the Gospel message to the circumstances of our day,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.” [Larry] Johnson [brother of the woman denied communion] said his parents were lifelong churchgoers, that the four children attended Catholic schools, that his sister taught at Catholic schools, and that neither he nor his sister see this as a reason to criticize the church more broadly. “We agreed this is not a discussion about gay rights, or about the teachings of the Catholic Church,” he said. “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.” UPDATE II: The WaPo has also interviewed the woman who was denied communion, who described how the priest learned the news:Johnson said that her partner of 20 years had been helping the family at the church earlier when the priest asked who she was. “And she said, ‘I’m her partner,’ ” Johnson recalled. When Guarnizo covered the wine and wafers with his hand during Communion, Johnson stood there for a moment, thinking he would change his mind, she said. “I just stood there, in shock. I was grieving, crying,” she said. “My mother’s body was behind me, and all I wanted to do was provide for her, and the final thing was to make a beautiful funeral, and here I was letting her down because there was a scene.” That seems at odds with a commenter here who wrote:I happen to know “First hand” that Barbara went into the sacristy before the mass and introduced herself as a lesbian in an active lesbian relationship… introducing her partner as “her lover” (her words). She left the sacristy before Fr. could have the “private discussion” you talk about. Barbaras “Lover” blocked his way out of the sacristy when he attempted to speak with her further. Stay tuned. I don’t think this story is over yet. __________________ Your socks stink. To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts. Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2 _qoptions={ qacct:"p-61p7v5crX5G-6" }; var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www."); document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E")); try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-1870794-7"); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {} [...]

  4. [...] Deacon Kandra has a good summary post on his blog HERE.  Among the other things Rev. Mr. Kandra posted, he has this, with my emphases: A reader from [...]

  5. [...]  Fr. Marcel told her that she should not present herself for communion.  Ms. Johnson immediately left the sacristy.  Fr. Marcel tried to go to her, but was physically restrained by Ms. Johnson’s [...]

  6. [...] Deacon Greg Kandra’s post he gives us the details: It’s been an extremely difficult week for Barbara Johnson — perhaps [...]