Catholic priest who denied a lesbian Holy Communion at her mother’s funeral leaves diocese

Barbara Johnson was denied communion at her mother's funeral

A Catholic priest who denied a lesbian communion during her mother’s funeral mass has left the Archdiocese of Washington after he was suspended for his actions earlier this year.

Reverend Marcel Guarnizo, originally from the Archdiocese of RuiMoscow, Russia, was on assignment at St. John Neumann parish when the incident occurred last year.

Barbara Johnson (51) was attending her mother’s funeral with her partner of almost 20 years on February 25 last when Guarnizo declared ‘a strong admonition that only Catholics in a state of grace can receive communion’.

Johnson told MSNBC, ‘I went up. I was standing next to my mother’s casket and he covered the bowl, and said, ‘I cannot give you communion because you are with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.’ I stood there with my mouth open in a state of shock for -- I don’t know how long.”

The 51-year-old then refused to attend her mother’s burial.

Within days of the funeral she received a letter of apology from the Archdiocese of Washington. Fr Guarnizo was later suspended on March 14 and a spokeswoman for the diocese confirmed this week he has left.

Noguchi Scheve, director of media and public relations at the Archdiocese of Washington, wrote in an email to ‘Fr. Marcel Guarnizo is a priest of the Archdiocese of Moscow, Russia, who was given a temporary assignment at St. John Neumann parish.

“That assignment period has ended and Father Guarnizo is no longer in ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington.”

Responding to his departure, Johnson said on Monday that she was relieved by the decision.

“It gives me great comfort to see that the Archdiocese of Washington acted swiftly initially not only to point out that his behavior was wrong and not in accordance with their policy but then to suspend him,” Johnson said.

“Knowing that he will not be able to visit such pain on another family in the Washington archdiocese gives me and my family a lot of comfort.”