A Catholic priest who denied communion to a lesbian attending her mother’s funeral, has been placed on leave.
There was no mention of the refusal of communion in the statement by the “Archdiocese of Washington Regarding Fr. Marcel Guarnizo”.
It said the archdiocese had received “credible allegations that Father Guarnizo had engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry."
In February during her mother’s funeral at St. John Neumann Catholic Churc in Gaithersburg Barbara Johnson was denied communion.
"When I arrived before him, he covered the bowl with the Euchrist with his hand," Johnson said.
"He looked at me and said, 'I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman, and that is a sin in the eyes of the church.'”
The priest then left during the eulogy and did not attend the burial.
Father Guarnizo, of a priest of the archdioceses of Moscow and have been serving in the Washington area since March 2012.
Responding to the statement on Sunday, the family said that while it doesn’t refer to the funeral, they hope it will ensure others will not suffer the same treatment.
The following statement was released:
Statement of the Archdiocese of Washington Regarding Fr. Marcel Guarnizo
Effective March 9, 2012, Father Marcel Guarnizo's assignment at St. John Neumann Parish is withdrawn and he has been placed on administrative leave with his priestly faculties removed until such time as an inquiry into his actions at the parish is completed. Father Guarnizo is a priest of the Archdiocese of Moscow, Russia, and has been serving in the Archdiocese of Washington since March 2011 as parochial vicar at the parish.
This action was taken after Bishop Barry C. Knestout, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese of Washington, received credible allegations that Father Guarnizo had engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry.
Given the grave nature of these allegations, and in light of the confusion in the parish and the concerns expressed by parishioners, Father Guarnizo is prohibited from exercising any priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington until all matters can be appropriately resolved with the hope that he might return to priestly ministry.