Religion

Rev. Marcel Guarnizo Suspended After Denying Communion to Lesbian

| by Michael Allen

Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, a priest who denied communion to a lesbian, Barbara Johnson, at her mother's funeral has been placed on leave, according to the Roman Catholic archdiocese.

A letter from an archdiocese official said that the Rev. Guarnizo was placed on leave for engaging in intimidating behavior. According to The Washington Post, the letter was read at all Masses this weekend at St. John Neumann. 

Rev. Thomas LaHood said the removal was not related to the communion incident, but "pertains to actions over the past week or two."

On Feb. 25, Johnson attended her mom's funeral at the St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with her partner.

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When it came time for communion, Guarnizo issued a strong admonition that only Catholics in a state of grace could receive the sacrament, not lesbians. Rev. Guarnizo also refused to attend her mother’s burial.

The Diocese of Washington D.C. sent a letter of apology within days, saying the priest's behavior wasn't correct.