HRC Blog

Priest Who Denied Lesbian Communion Suspended

Post submitted by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

A Catholic priest in Maryland who recently denied Communion to a lesbian at her mother’s funeral has been placed on leave for “intimidating behavior,” the Washington Post reports.

The Washington archdiocese took action against Fr. Marcel Guarnizo on Friday and said it was a result of Guarnizo “engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others…”

Late last month, Fr. Guarnizo denied Barbara Johnson Communion at her mother’s funeral service, saying:  “I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin according to the church.”

The pastor at St. John Neumann’s, where the incident occurred, addressed the denial of Communion in a letter announcing Guarnizo’s suspension:

"As we know there’s been disagreement within the parish over how and to whom Communion is distributed. From my perspective this disagreement and related emotions flow from love. Love for Christ, really and truly present in the Eucharist. However, how we live out this love is important. The Scriptures tell us that we are known above all by how we love.”

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