A Gaithersburg priest is defending his decision to deny communion to a lesbian at her mother’s funeral in late February. Rev. Marcel Guarnizo of St. John Neumann Catholic Church was put on leave following an incident where Guarnizo refused communion to Barbara Johnson for being a lesbian.
Rev. Guarnizo had declined to comment publicly until a statement was released to Cybercast News Service on Wednesday. Rev. Guarnizo says Johnson introduced another woman as her “lover” without being asked during the funeral.
He says "openly confessing sin'' should be done in a confessional and not before Communion. He says he then quietly withheld Communion.
“I am confident that my own view, that I did the only thing a faithful Catholic priest could do in such an awkward situation, quietly, with no intention to hurt or embarrass, will be upheld,” Guarnizo said in part.
Rev. Guarnizo went on to say: “My personal conversation with both parties in question were in my view civil, professional and in no way hostile. I respect both individuals in question and really do not know the nature of their grievance.”
The priest has been on leave since March 9. Johnson's family has called Guarnizo's response "arrogant'' and "deceitful.'' Johnson says he is politicizing her mother's death.