News Necessities: Punishment for a PriestMarch 13, 2012
Well I’ll be… That was my sentiment yesterday as I read a tweet from the Washington Blade. The Blade is reporting, along with MSNBC and several other news sources that the priest who refused communion to a lesbian at her deceased mother’s funeral mass is now relieved of his duties.
If you’re scratching your head at this point let me rewind a bit. A few weeks ago we learned about Father Marcel Guarnizo. The father served a parish in Gaithersburg, MD and was set to perform a funeral mass. Apparently before the ceremony he learned that the deceased’s daughter, Barbara Johnson was a lesbian – and so when Johnson was in line to receive Communion, the priest covered the communal bowl and claimed, “I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman and in the eyes of the church that is a sin.”
Hmm. I’ve heard this argument from religious figures before. I’m not particularly a fan of how the father handled the situation but I didn’t think this kind of sentiment was new.
But the Archdiocese was made aware of the altercation and Johnson received a kindly worded letter of apology from Washington Bishop Barry C. Knestout. Then roughly a week later the Bishop Knestout released an additional letter announcing that Fr. Guarnizo was placed on administrative leave.
It’s important to note that the the letter addressing Guarnizo’s leave does not mention the funeral incident but makes broad claims about the ways in which the father “engaged in intimidating behavior”.
I’m seeing several DC area bloggers lash out at the Washington Post and other news outlets for their “liberal” portrayal of these events. They claim Guarnizo’s current situation is a direct result of the media coverage.
Ah, clearly the media was responsible for spreading the word – I’m pretty sure that’s the role of the media. The punishment however, that’s the decision of the Archdiocese.
But I learned something from this story. The Washington Archdiocese issued a statement saying that the priest’s actions were against “policy” and that they would look into it as a personnel issue. The archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wuerl went on to say that said he did not believe in denying Communion because it is impossible to know what is in another person’s heart. Granted we don’t know all the facts here, and I’m ashamed to admit that after four years of Catholic school I still can’t fully grasp all the rules regarding Communion procedures. But if the accounts of the Washington Post etc… are correct, I’m impressed by the Archdiocese’s actions and appreciate their stance to allow everyone to participate in Communion if they so choose.
News Necessities: Sue
Sue likes sticking to the important issues and brings you one post every Tuesday to highlight a recent event or media frenzy and dissect it.
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