Fr. Marcel Guarnizo’s pastor: “Let me repeat…”

Worth noting:

At Sunday Masses over the weekend, [Father] LaHood read a letter from Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Washington archdiocesan vicar general, announcing Guarnizo had been removed from the parish and barred from priestly ministry in the archdiocese until issues surrounding his behavior are resolved.

It said his removal followed “credible allegations” that the priest “has engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry.”

Before reading the letter, LaHood said he had been in discussions with Knestout about Guarnizo in the last week, but he said emphatically, “The issue discussed this week did not have to do with the distribution of Communion two weeks ago. Let me repeat that: The issue discussed this week did not have to do with the distribution of Communion two weeks ago. The issue pertains to actions over the past week or so.”

He did not elaborate, and Washington archdiocesan officials have declined to comment further, calling it “a personnel issue.” LaHood did say he agreed fully with Knestout’s decision.

Read more.


  1. pagansister says:

    Perhaps the refusal to give communion to Johnson was the “straw that broke the camel’s (Church’s) back? OR the timing of his being put on leave was really lousy!

  2. and so we stir the pot again.

  3. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    One of the questions Ed Peters posed a few days ago was whether this troublesome behavior by Fr. Marcel was an ongoing problem. The pastor’s words – and I have to assume he’s telling the truth – indicate otherwise, and that something specific happened within a specific timeframe, AFTER the communion incident. I find that significant — along with his support for Bishop Knestout’s decision.

  4. 42. A Prayer for all Priests

    Eternal Father,

    I lift up to You all the priests of the world.

    Sanctify them. Heal and guide them.

    Mold them into the likeness and holiness of Your Son, Jesus, the Eternal High Priest.

    May their lives be pleasing to You.

    In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen

    Amen and Amen!

  5. Yes, they read it here first:, eh?

    “The allegations of ‘intimidating behavior’ by Guarnizo are not recited in Knestout’s letter, but three questions would occur to me: … (c) did Guarnizo’s post-controversy conduct in the parish render him intemperate with others, provoking what are really recent complaints?”

    So, we’ll have to see.

  6. Fr LaHood is a calm, respected, level-headed person who is not going to try to have Fr Guarnizo removed without very substantial reason. I am very curious about what exactly Fr Guarnizo has been doing all the years since his ordination, approximately 16 years ago. Where did he live? What supervision did he have all those years if his bishop was back in Moscow, Russia? No mater how much of a “whiz kid” anyone is, one needs mentors. I know that he was involved with Russian fund-raising, but it seems like this activity was winding down some time ago.
    This parish was his first time doing pastoral work. He was only there one short year. He had a flare for the dramatic in dress and in speech. He urged civil disobedience ( see Youtube).
    There is a priests’ committee in the Archdiocese of Washington that intervenes with individual priests having various problems that are psychologically related or related to substance abuse. I wonder if they were called in. There are numerous support resources available for any priest in need. I am wondering if Fr. Guarnizo had managed to even have any friends in the clergy here, depending upon where he physically spent his time since his ordination. My speculation is the following, and it is speculation: I think that he had a major psychological incident seeing a seemingly well-adjusted “out” lesbian with her partner at the funeral. I doubt that his training in Italy had the men sufficiently coming to grips with their own psychological issues and sexuality during the period that he was there. I think that he found it overwhelming to confront his own personal issues, compounded by the publicity surrounding the communion incident. The original story in The Washington Post generated over 4500 comments, mostly supporting Barbara Johnson. This was a huge come down for a person used to being a focus of attention. All of this is speculation, but again, I am curious about how he spent his time prior to this very recent parish assignment, and exactly what his seminary training was.

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “Intimidating behavior”? What, are we talking assault? Or just giving somebody the hairy eyeball?

    Because I was under the impression that Mother Church gives everybody the hairy eyeball. Heck, I’ve gotten the stink-eye from our old bishop! Am I supposed to making a blacklist for black looks?

    Seriously… I know the archdiocese has to be discreet. But the way these people are discreet, it’s stirring things up every five seconds. They need somebody better at PR. Why on earth didn’t they just have the parish announce that Father had gone on a Lenten retreat or something? Arranging a retreat would be a heckuva lot easier than all this fufu.

  8. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    I think you’re over-reaching and over-thinking this, and projecting things onto Fr. Marcel that really have no foundation.

    More likely, the priest was simply overstressed. Who can blame him? The sudden national (even international) attention, widespread and hostile public criticism, speculation, and gossip (here and elsewhere), coupled with the order to remain silent and the lack of any public support from his superiors, may have been too much. I’ve been known to throw foot-stomping tantrums of my own over far less. (Just ask my wife).

    Dcn. G.

  9. Unless it was something like a physical assault (?), I don’t see the need to have removed him in the public way he was. I agree with Dcn Greg that his nerves were probably quite raw from all the attention and allegations (no shortage of which came from the blogosphere).

  10. naturgesetz says:

    kevin —

    The thing is, people would certainly ask where Fr. Guarnizo was. So they had to say he had been placed on leave (or lie). And if they hadn’t said it was for other matters, many would have assumed that it was because of the funeral. And if they hadn’t given some general indication of the nature of the problem, some people would have assumed it had to do with an allegation of improper (or worse) behavior toward children. So I think we can give them credit for trying to handle sensitively and honestly.

  11. Again, mishandled and in dire need of PR professional remediation. We need the whole story. This cryptic nonsense does not work in the main stream media shark tank. If the diocese officials don’t want to play with the sharks, they should ignore them and stop with the letters. Once you engage the sharks, give your flock a break and tell the WHOLE story.

  12. “… Lenten Retreat or something…”? It’s wise they did no such thing. Another lie and coverup of bad behavior by a priest is exactly what the Church does NOT need.

  13. Fr Guarnizo has evidently not been silenced because he released a statement a short while ago. He seems to be saying that his pastor Fr La Hood and Bishop Knestout are not telling the truth. Again, I am wonder to whom Fr Guarnizo is answerable. I can’t believe that the Archbishop of Moscow is letting him publicly challenge Bishop Knestout, and he also reminds us “…Cardinal Wuerl is not my bishop”.

  14. Please show us the statement.

  15. Deacon Steve says:

    Until the process of investigation is complete we are not really entitled to the full story, if even then. The Bishop is taking what he thinks to be prudent and appropriate actions in light of some information that he was given. What he has done is to protect the priest, and the people until the investigation is complete. When it is complete if the allegations are unproven then I would imagine that the priest will have his faculties restored. If they are proven, then appropriate further action will be taken. We need to get over this attitude that we should be informed of every detail of a personnel issue. By not disclosing the full accusation it protects the priest so that he may be returned to active ministry if the facts warrant it.

  16. “The issue discussed this week did not have to do with the distribution of Communion two weeks ago. ”

    That’s a really weird way to phrase it. Now, I am going to assume good faith here, that Father meant what we assume he meant (instead of the way that politicians tend to parse words to weasel the truth in a technical way all the while winking at us). But he could have stated it more clearly IMO.

  17. Ditto, please. I don’t see it.

  18. Thank you Laura!

  19. Basically, the priest got railroaded.

  20. Henry Karlson says:

    Basically, we know he claims he was; but again, we also know many who have been rightfully dismissed made such claims, too. Once again, caution is to be used instead of just assuming he is railroaded and then find out you are defending someone who did something worthy of discipline.

  21. Read the story and it’s all clear to me now.

  22. Ok, so now even his own statement is not good enough for you Henry? Unbelievable.

  23. Here’s the way I heard the statement: It wasn’t what he did two weeks ago, it’s what he did last week.
    Perhaps what happened two weeks ago, and the ensuing drama, caused some erratic behavior last week. In the secular world we call that “being stressed out”. This poor priest was caught in a snare, plain and simple. I’m praying for him daily.

  24. Henry Karlson says:

    Well, the statement which said it was not connected to the funeral is not good enough for you?

    The point is, no, it is not good enough. I don’t know the details. I am not in a position to know the details. I know his claim. I also remember claims of many others who did wrong who claimed they were being railroaded and they did nothing wrong. Just because he said he did nothing wrong does not mean he did nothing wrong (but then again, he might have done nothing wrong, as I said, I don’t know the details). But some people are too quick to judge the bishop, and so have already predetermined innocence without knowing the facts, and so will accept his statement and bash bishops more. This is not good. What I read in the link, moreover, is somewhat fishy, but again, that comes from not knowing the full story — of even where he belongs in an administrative sense!

  25. Henry Karlson says:

    You don’t know if he was caught in a snare, or if there are serious problems which were revealed. Again, it seems people are too quick to make judgments without knowing the facts. It’s best to let it be, let the authorities explore them, and let us hear the results of the examination instead of trying to fight without knowing what it is we are even dealing with. And of course, some people are upset that it has not been revealed what it is which is being investigated, but on the other hand, how many would claim the bishops is ruining his reputation if the charges were made clear? Again, I say let the right people deal with it and stop making assumptions of bad faith — on anyone!

  26. Fr. M just released his official statement. Here I believe are the answers to all of your questions:


  27. Richard M says:

    Your first sentence is fine, and jibes with what I know of Fr. LaHood.

    Everything after that is a whole lot of speculation, and some of it is close to calumny – and all of it without foundation, as Deacon Greg rightly notes.

    There *are* priests out there with some of these issues, as we all know. But I also personally know priests who have been falsely accused of such things, and it’s not easy for them to get their good name back. Whether what Fr. Guarnizo did was correct or not, let’s not pile on until we know more.

  28. Henry Karlson says:

    Just because he has made a statement does not mean what he said answers the questions, especially since his statement is in opposition to what we have heard from official sources. So it only adds to the questions.

  29. Knowing Fr. Marcel personally, I believe his statement. His story rings true to me based on my knowledge of him and others involved in this story.

    That being said, I understand that those on the outside cannot know who to believe in this “he said, he said” situation. Clearly either Fr. Marcel or the ADW is inaccurately reporting the facts, and those who are just reading these competing statements cannot accept one over the other on face value alone. I personally think that the evidence that is public points clearly in Fr. Marcel’s favor (even if one doesn’t know him personally), but I leave each person to form his own opinion.

    But I will say this: I do not think we have any obligation to give the ADW the benefit of the doubt over Fr. Marcel. A bishop’s authority does not mean that we must believe everything that comes out of his mouth – recent history alone should prove that bishops (and chanceries) are not always paradigms of virtue. If Fr. Marcel were to disobey the directive of the ADW (by celebrating Mass in public, for example), then clearly he would be in the wrong and the ADW should be supported in that case. But Fr. Marcel has done nothing of this nature, and as a priest, he deserves every bit of benefit that the ADW receives. I have no problem with outside people reserving judgement on this matter, but I don’t think they should take an attitude of “well, I’ll believe a bishop over a priest because he is a bishop”.

    Also, I want to make clear that Fr. LaHood,. the pastor of SJN, is a good and holy priest, and it pains me that Fr. Marcel’s statement contradicts Fr. LaHood’s statement regarding the origin of “incidents” in question. Personally, I assume that Fr. LaHood was told that the removal from ministry was unrelated to communion incident and simply related that in his statement. But nonetheless, the fact that two priests I greatly admire are publicly at odds causes me great pain.

    We must pray fervently for all involved – there is no question the devil is rejoicing right now.

  30. Sounds like a total set-up to me. Now that it is most obvious that the woman in question was at fault, someone is looking either to destroy him in another way, or to make it look like disciplining him was right when it was wrong. We laity are so tired of seeing good priests get pilloried by the PC police, while blatant sinners and heretics get a pass! I hope he didn’t do anything wrong, but if he did, can you blame us for being hesitant to believe it? It is not right for priests’ reputations to be ruined on the mere whiff of an accusation. My guess is he already had some enemies at the parish because he insisted on doing things right, and they’re just trying to destroy him. If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it. But we’ll see.

  31. Henry Karlson says:

    How do you know it is a total set-up? I’ve heard this claim many times in the recent past. Please, let things come out as they come out, don’t assume either way.

  32. Peter Hebert says:

    The Archdiocese of Washington was in the wrong first for apologizing and second for disciplining Marcel Guarzino. St. Paul’s letter to the wayward and wild church in Corinth speaks to the issue: “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.” ~ 1 Corinthians 11:26-29 (New International Version) The heart of this issue applies to anyone living in the state of mortal sin, not just a practicing lesbian, who told Marcel, oh … by the way … and, she’s my live in lover. The scandal is not with Marcel Guarzino, it is with the Archdiocese of Washington.

  33. midwestlady says:

    Yeah, let’s not stir the pot again. The news media is playing us again like a cheap fiddle. It’s time to listen up and think about this atmosphere we’re in and what’s going on, really.

    If a Catholic gets the Republican nomination, you must realize that this scandal-mongering by the media & the progressive party is going to ramp up big time. They have been able to pit us against each other for their benefit before, and they will try to do it again. I hope you realize that.

    Yes, we have intra-church disputes. Yes we have grievances. But they’re not as important as the HHS mandate, and the very real persecution that we’re undergoing. If we don’t want it to get worse, we need to learn to work with each other like partners, and do what’s best for the Church as a whole. We can handle our differences later, privately, as they ought to be handled, okay? Meantime, we have lawsuits to win and elections to vote in. We can’t let this mess get any BIGGER & NASTIER than it already is, right?

  34. Only in America.

    God save us all.

    Whine, moan and lament.

    These so called neo ‘traditional’ist Catholics and their endless crying. Cleric and laiety.

    Read Matthew 5:11. He should be rejoicing in this. Offering all with the Crucified for the redemption of souls. Where is obedience ? Humility ?

    Such spineless hypocrisy.

    You Americans wouldn’t know a true Catholic if he/she hit you up the kisser with those loving words, “Hev a nice day !” :-)

    I must off now to the desert for forty years to pray and fast for all of you.

    Trish (UK)

  35. Hyp O'Crasy says:

    i agree. And a strong hand should be wielded against ALL offenders. The homosexual priests who prey on young men should be the FIRST to be denied.

  36. Oh Trish, still bitter that we kicked King George and England out of the United States? We’ll pray for you English Catholics also.

  37. midwestlady says:

    Trish, you guys have done such a good job at converting England that you can’t even wear a cross in public now. Stop yelling at us, and go fix your own government. It sure the heck needs it.

  38. James Booth says:

    No where have I seen or heard either Fr. LaHood or the Bishop say that the woman was wrong for receiving the body of Christ and sinned . Or have they said the Fr. Guarnizo was right for not giving her communion. Give the Bishop a gold star for being PC.

  39. naturgesetz says:

    Peter Herbert —

    Notice in the passage you quoted that it says, “Everyone ought to examine themselves.” It doesn’t say that the elder (=presbyteros =priest) ought to examine everyone — or anyone. It was on Barbara Johnson’s conscience whether she received Communion or not; it was not on Fr. Guarnizos’ conscience, and this scripture gives no support for the idea that it was his call.

  40. Peter Hebert says:

    If I had my way, the pedophiles would be sent to chop chop square in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Call it outsourcing if you like. The problem of robbing innocence and the scandal issue would be solved overnight.

  41. Peter Hebert says:

    Naturgesetz, you are correct. But, recall that St. Paul also spoke of throwing out wayward “believers” like the man sleeping with his father’s wife, who perhaps his step mother. If offering communion to someone in mortal sin is okay, then what the Church of England did in performing Elton John’s marriage is kosher. I’ll stick with the traditional values even if the world chooses to embrace wrong doing.

  42. naturgesetz says:

    Yes, there is a possibility of excommunication, which would pre-empt the individual’s self-examination. An argument could be made that it should be applied to more cases: politicians who oppose restrictions on abortion, people cohabiting in sexual relationships outside marriage, retailers who engage in business on the Lord’s day, etc. But at present we don’t have it in such cases.

  43. Lionel Andrades says:

    Saturday, March 17, 2012
    Canonist Peters thinks Fr.Guarnizo was wrong in witholding the Eucharist to the Barbara Johnson.
    Edward Peters errs in assuming that the outward action does not indicate the internal thoughts or motivation. This is the moral theology of Fr.Bernard Haring and Fr.Charles Curran.
    Homosexuality and lesbianism will always be a mortal sin.It is grave matter and the woman has admitted it in this case.She persists in receiving the Eucharist and still persists in the sin.

  44. Deacon Greg Kandra says:


    Homosexuality is not a mortal sin.

    Homosexual acts are.

    Read the catechism.

    You might also want to read this explanation of what “manifest” sin means.

    Dcn. G.

  45. Lionel Andrades says:

    Deacon Kandra,
    Praised be Jesus and Our Lady.
    I am aware that the homosexuality orientation is not a mortal sin but the act is.
    Similarly a lustful thought in a heterosexual is not a sin per se but the willful act is a grave sin. So masturbation, fornication, concubinage etc are grave sins.
    So if a homosexual/lesbian lives with a similar partner it is similar to concubinage. If the lesbian has a lover as in this case it is a grave sin.
    Homosexuality in this sense has always been considered a mortal sin.
    Ed Peters has changed Catholic teaching. He writes ‘There was apparently no mention of Johnson’s possible lesbian activism’. What does he mean?
    He wrote:
    ‘Guarnizo says that, a few minutes before Mass started, Johnson appeared in the sacristy and introduced another woman as her “lover”; further conversation was prevented by the “lover” standing in a doorway. There was apparently no mention of Johnson’s possible lesbian activism, her cohabitation status (if any),’

    Ed Peters says Canon Law 915 binds ministers and not recipients. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the bishops and priests and Eucharistic ministers do not come under Canon Law 915, when they give the Eucharist to pro abortion politicians? Is this not sacrilegious cooperation. Are these religious and the pro abortion politicians in manifest mortal sin according to Ed Peters and you?

    Also now after the Eucharistic incident we know Barbara Johnson is a Buddhist and a lesbian and she has not denied it. Will not all those who continue
    to give her the Eucharist be in mortal sin and come under Canon 915?
    Ed Peters says:
    ‘ In contrast, Canon 915 binds ministers, not recipients.’

    True, Canon 915 binds ministers. This also includes the archbishop and bishops in Washington who give the Eucharist to pro abortion politicians. This is a grave sin and they are culpable under Canon 915
    Canon Lawyer Ed Peters is reportedly employed in the Detroit Archdiocese seminary. The bishop of Detroit is not willing to affirm the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus or say that Jews need to convert for salvation and he targeted Michael Voris for defending Catholic teaching. Can a juridical person according to Canon Law deny a defined dogma ?

    When Fr. Marcel Guarnizo said that the Eucharist cannot be given to a Quaker, Lutheran or Buddhist he was affirming a defined dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus and also Ad Gentes 7 Vatican Council II, Dominus Iesus 20, CCC 846 etc.

    Cardinal Donald Wuerl willing to affirm the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. Since he believes, according to the Notification issued on Fr. Peter C. Phan, that those saved in invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire are defacto exceptions to the dogma.(He was on the USCCB Doctrinal Committee). Is not the Archbishop of Washington in manifest mortal sin for Ed Peters?


  46. Karlson, you say we dont have all the facts and so cannot judge, but that old broadside is irrelevant here.

    1. We know that communion should not be given to a lesbian Budist heretic who has left the church. Is there a way that the priest in question, knowing what he knew, could have given her communion in good conscience?

    2. We also know that the ADW is doing to the good priest what it is slamming him for alledgedly doing: publically humiliating an errant person, even if what they say is true regarding bad conduct on his part.

    3. All this is done in the context of a national campaign by the PC pro-gay community to force the rest of us to affirm gay marriage. Whether what the ADW says is true or is not, they have given a confusing response to the faithful who look to them for clear leadership and have sown doubt and anxiety among them instead.

    Please, try to look at this from the perspective of a faithful Catholic and not that of Sherlock Holmes as this is not a morally neutral controversy for which the leadership can afford to simply wait it out. The faithful have to act NOW to start righting the ship of state.

    There will be no ‘Pilgramage of Grace’ this time in response to the unfaithful and enemies of our church.


  1. [...] Read more, including his description of what led to his faculties being suspended. He says that, contrary to public statements by the Archdiocese, it is connected to the communion incident.UPDATE: The Washington Post has more, including reaction [...]

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