Church Denies Communion To Grieving Daughter; Equated Same Sex Marriage With Owning Slaves

SJN%20Peru%20painting%20sizedA week ago yesterday, a lesbian named Barbara Johnson attended her mother's funeral in Gaithersburg, MD. It was a Catholic funeral. Father Marcel Guarnizo, the cleric who presided over the ceremony, doesn't like gay people: during communion he refused to give the grieving daughter a piece of the Eucharist. From The Advocate:

Barbara Johnson says that Father Marcel Guarnizo told her, “I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church that is a sin.”

Denying Ms. Johnson the Eucharist apparently wasn't enough for Fr. Guarnizo, who reportedly "left the alter" when Ms. Johnson delivered her mother's eulogy, and later refused to attend the gravesite. 

Fr. Guarnizo is a parochial vicar at St. John Neumann, which means he is subordinate to St. John Neumann's pastor. That pastor, Rev. Thomas LaHood, has since apologized to Ms. Johnson, as has his own superior, the Rev. Barry Nestout, an auxillary bishop. According to the AP, the latter gentleman has released a statement which reads, in part:

In my years as a priest, I have encountered many pastoral situations and know that kindness to those experiencing personal loss is a necessary part of the church’s call to clarity. The fact that you did not experience this is a cause of great concern and personal regret to me.

Ms. Johnson isn't mollified, and is calling for Fr. Guarnizo's job. Meanwhile, Rev. Nestout may wish to discuss his great concerns and personal regrets with Fr. Guarnizo's immediate supervisor, Rev. LaHood. For although Rev. LaHood has apologized to Ms. Johnson, it wasn't a month ago that Rev. LaHood wrote this article for the church's weekly bulletin, in which he equated same-sex relationships with slavery.

Wrote LaHood:

The contrary argument is an account of the human person that says that we are radical individuals and that the only rule of behavior is that each of us is free to follow his impulses and desires as long as we do not hurt anyone else. This is a very negative view of human nature. Its basic acknowledgement is that we owe nothing to anyone else, either individually or to society as a whole. Under this account, the only moral question anyone has to answer in regard to a particular action is this: “is this action what I want to do and will it advance the fulfillment of my desires without interfering with anyone seeking to fulfill his desires?” This rule denies that any of us owes anything to anyone else. This is the moral compass behind contraception, abortion, no-fault divorce, in-vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, slavery, and same sex marriage. 

The invocation of slavery and same sex marriage in the same category may seem startling. But, they both come under the same moral category. 

No good priest would grant Holy Communion to a slave holder. Would he?


  1. NaughtyLola says

    Are you really still reporting on this? Next up: the Sun is hot and water is wet.

    The Priesthood isn’t a job that you can just fire someone from due to social pressure. Its a lifetime vocation, and so far this priest hasn’t actually done anything counter to the rules of the Catholic Churh. Its not his responsibility to answer for other people’s hypocrisy.

    Instead of spending so much energy trying to get an old, outdated, organization to bend to your will — IGNORE THEM. Abandon them, and doom them to irrelevance. If you really crave the ritual and the liturgy, start your own freaking church and see if you can get enough adherents to make it meaningful. It’s been done before (Lutheranism, anyone? Or more recently, Tridentine Catholicism?)

  2. Craig says

    I’ve known a lot of good, gay supporting Catholics in my time. I’ve even known some truly excellent Catholic priests – gay and straight – that are truly the embodiment of the Christian spirit of love and acceptance. But frankly, the Catholic church’s command and control structure is a bunch of nuts. There is no way I could stomach being in that church. How on earth do these people look themselves in the mirror while they protect and harbor pedophile rapists by the thousands and then pass moral judgment on gay people? That is one judgment from God I don’t want to be anywhere around when it happens!

  3. Sarm says

    A Christian would know all about slavery. They also know nothing of morality, and therefore are in no position to speak of such.

    And I’m sure they would offer communion to a slave holder, considering they’ve had a hand in the industry as long as they have.

  4. Brian says

    So LaHood attacks a moral code that permits you to do what you want so long as it causes no harm to others. In fact, that code is a pretty good starting place for a complex crowded democracy. But he really loses it when he comes up with slavery as an example of an outcome of this moral code. Um, I’m pretty sure slavery does cause harm to others, ie the slave, and I actually can’t come up with a worse example.

  5. J Smith says

    When I read the title, I thought you were talking about this story:

    Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland said:

    “Same-sex marriage would eliminate entirely in law the basic idea of a mother and a father for every child. It would create a society which deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.”

    “Imagine for a moment that the government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that ‘no one will be forced to keep a slave’ “

  6. Robert in SF says

    I note the passive tense, as it were, in the “apology.” The statement above doesn’t assign any actions to the priest or the Church, just the effects on the person. Some could claim that this shows a focus on those effects and the damage done, a real empathetic approach that shows caring about the offended. I believe it is a way to avoid taking responsibility and represents a variation of the “I am sorry you took offense.” To me, a heartfelt and sincere apology should include the offending person/group actually noting what they did, and that is wrong, and why they now believe it was wrong…

    “In my years as a priest, I have encountered many pastoral situations and know that kindness to those experiencing personal loss is a necessary part of the church’s call to clarity. The fact that *you did not experience this* is a cause of great concern and personal regret to me.”

    The statement is not: “The fact that the Church failed in its duties and obligations to provide you that,” or even “The fact that the Church denied you that experience due to personally motivated selective application of judgement of which sinful state is appropriate.”

    But the excerpt above is responsibility-dodge. And they should be called on it and should anyone who does it.

    Note: I did not see a link to read the whole statement so I might have missed something.

  7. borut says

    I’m surprised that he equates owning slaves, which the Bible actually approves of, with gay marriage, which the Catholic Church sees as legalization of evil. Really, even the priests have lost their moral compass, nowadays!

  8. AskingforEquality says

    Another crude case of “Buffet Religion”, where the authorities of the church get to pick and choose which sins they want to enforce at any given time. How many people did this priest give communion to that were divorcees? How about the ones using contraceptives? Did he ask…NO. He just singled out the lesbian to cast away.

  9. Michaelandfred says

    Aaaaah, it’s rules about things that harm no others that has his nickers in a twist. The RCC has for centuries followed hundreds of legal, non legal, ritualistic, perverted, unethical, often down right evil codes that did serious harm to many involved. It seems it’s the things that actually don’t cause harm to others that bother them so much. What a strange “morality” for a church.

  10. Michelle says

    Christianity and Catholicism needs to start being called out. enough of people thinking their made up beliefs is so sacred when they are responsible for so many deaths and destruction throughout history.

  11. rapture says

    Even (albeit fictional) Scarlett O’Hara was a Roman Catholic. It was the favored religion amongst southern slave holders in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Papacy had no problem with genocide during WWII. My mother was incarcerated in a concentration camp and the local Roman Catholic Bishop routinely came to bless the staff for their “holy” work of ushering in the millenium.

  12. Bernhard says

    The image here is taken from the website of St John Neuman, the church involved. The website, last time I checked, had email addresses for those involved. I am sure they’ve heard from quite a few people by now.
    Maybe now is the time for the priest involved to pursue missionary work in a location where his anti-gay acting out would be more tolerated.

  13. Cecil says

    Ironic when you consider that there is so much scriptural support of slavery in the Bible- essentially, its okay if they weren’t from your tribe(the Israelites- not that anyone remembers that this sprang from a tribal pagan religion).

  14. says

    OK, this is a great anti-Catholic story handed to you on a silver platter. But the facts that are OMITTED are as important as the ones included.

    For instance, whereas Fr. Guarnizo denied her communion…the Assisting Eucharistic Minister then *immediately* came over and gave her communion.

    Fr. Guarnizo refused to do the graveside euology, but another parish priest who was off duty that day immediately stepped up, accompanied the family to the cemetary, and performed the eulogy (which the woman in question said was “perfect.”

    And lastly, the Bishop of that Diocese heard of what happened and disciplinary proceedings have begun against Guarzino.

    SO, in many ways, the REAL story is that Guarzino was outragously out of line, but the Catholic “faith-family” rallied around this woman. It is Guarzino, not the Church, that should be the target of the disgust.

  15. Dearcomrade says

    What do you expect from these people? You go down the road of accepting fairy tale beliefs and you suffer the results of of group psychosis. While this woman has the right to believe whatever nonsense she chooses, she is going to suffer the results of those beliefs. This is particularly true when you sign on with the Papist swine of the Catholic Church.
    Switch to the Episcopal s sweetie. They believe in magic too, but are a little more accepting of LGBT’s.

  16. Blair says

    These are the rules of the Catholic Church. Why not join another religion?!!

    Seriously, being gay and being disrespected by the Catholic Church should be like expecting to be warm on an 80 degree day in June in New York.

    This is just ridiculous, wasted angst.

  17. My 2cents says

    I’ve known many good people who happened to be catholic, and until now, I’ve never held it against them. But just how much longer will the general public continue to be harangued by representatives of this filthy, evil & corrupt institution? The truth is that the rank & file catholic in the pew has little influence on changing the outdated & immoral positions of its leadership. Religious trash like the former nazi Pope Ben, Cardinal Dolan, & Cardinal O’Brian support the Guarnizis of the church, and hide behind religious liberty declaring their right to do so.

  18. Susan says

    Brandon, it simply isn’t true that Fr. Guarnizo doesn’t like gay people. But what is clear is that many people are bent on hating Fr. Guarnizo. You are misinterpreting what facts you have and also some accusations and outright lies reported. I will give Barbara the benefit of the doubt in how she has chosen to respond in the midst of her great grief. I don’t believe she shares your disdain for the Catholic Church, but many will certainly take advantage of her situation to promote greater hatred and division. Hopefully in time many people will regret jumping on this bandwagon and seek to know the truth and Barbara herself will come to regret her attacks.

  19. Rin says

    I’m a Catholic. Feel free to tell me about my hate. Explain how I have no love in my heart. Tell me what loving family I have judged. Explain how the PhD that I wrecked my savings for is worthless because I am an idiot who cannot think for myself. Show me where I have said that I refuse to consider an opinion that differs from my own.

    Yes, there are many things I do not understand, but I try to. I have struggles, but I am open about them. I hope that each day I grow and learn and become better.

    I try each and every day to show kindness, compassion, charity, and mercy to everyone and in my own way try to undo what cruelty has been done and to show that the teachings within the Gospels can lead to a happy life of noncondemnation, compassion, happiness and joy.

    I don’t believe everyone should believe as I do. I respect those who believe other things or choose to believe in nothing at all. I only ask that I not be judged in borrowed robes.

  20. Dan CObb says

    Remember, the Catholic Church is made up of non-thinkers. The people who are classified as Catholic theologians, or Catholic philosophers are uniformly dim people who start their analyses from a position of presuming the correctness of Catholic theology. Abyssmal. There is little vigor in Catholic theological writing. Any bright sixth grader can refute most of Catholic theology. LEt’s face it, Catholics didn’t value free thinking when they remained with the Pope while the thinkers furthered the ideas of Martin Luther. And more recently, now that it has been revealed that the church frequently used the young boys of parishioners as their sexual play-things, the Catholics are still not leaving the church. How much thinking is really going on there??

  21. Dearcomrade says

    “It’s called faith because it is not knowledge”. – Christopher Hitchens.
    How can any rational person over the age of 12 believe in such fairy tales. We are indoctrinated into the supernatural as children from day one. It’s conditioning people, wake up from it!

  22. Marianne says

    If she was catholic, then she should have been allowed communion if in decent standing with the church. As for the lebian issues, alot of churches have relaxed the “though should not lay with a man as one would a woman” and vice versa, and include in that ALL GAY INTERCOUSRE that even occurs in heterosexual marriage … but better for God to guide where those influences belong rather than to allow the evil one to design the course.

    As for the referrence to slave holders, yes, I comprehend that… The few gays that I have encountered (some not all), some actually tag chakras that DO NOT BELONG TO THEM … that’s coveting …

    We should realize that Priests and clergy are people who try their best (atleast the majority) to follow God’s law while being compassionate… so this situation wasn’t appropriate … but couldn’t we look under a magnifying glass at most situations … Alot of christianity seems to be sociopathic … to do for others so they’ll like you, within a society of narcissism … we just have to try harder, do better, so we won’t fall into the unjust paths of the world.

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