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Friday, February 23, 2018


Lesbian denied communion at funeral deserves an apology

The Catholic Church is no stranger to scandals, and after a priest’s insensitive decision at a funeral service, the Catholic Church is unfortunately in the spotlight once again.

Barbara Johnson was denied communion at her mother’s funeral in Maryland because of her sexual orientation. The incident sparked controversy, and people are shocked with the priest’s lack of pastoral sensitivity — including the archdiocese. Johnson has spoken to several news sources and shared her story.

“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.”

Johnson and her family have received apologies from the archdiocese, but won’t be satisfied until the priest, Marcel Guarnizo, personally apologizes and is removed from the parish, “so no one ever has to experience this on the most tragic day of their lives, again.”

It’s hard to distinguish where and when the line between following one’s religious rules and being insensitive to others is crossed, but it was undoubtedly crossed here. The amount of Guarnizo’s heartlessness in this scenario is truly shocking. Although priests technically have the right to deny communion to sinners, this incident is more appropriately defined as bigotry than Christianity.

Our expectations and tolerances should evolve as the world does, and new beliefs and morals should be embraced rather than publicly demeaned, especially at such a sensitive time as during a funeral. If Father Guarnizo felt strongly enough about Johnson’s choice of life to deny her communion, the issue should have been discussed privately. Instead, Guarnizo humiliated Johnson in front of everyone attending the service, turning a day meant to celebrate her mother’s life into a day scarred by an absence of compassion.

To add insult to injury, when Johnson gave her eulogy after communion, Guarnizo walked out of the service, leaving no priest at the burial.

What happened to treating all of God’s children with respect and dignity? When did Guarnizo make the switch from praying for sinners to humiliating them? It seems the extension of charity and kindness, an apparent staple in the Catholic faith, is completely contradicted by Guarnizo’s actions here.

A priest has no business continuing to practice if he’s forgotten such a simple and important concept as empathy. Perhaps Guarnizo should take a break from shaming and embarrassing others to spend a little more time self-reflecting and acknowledging his own unchristian qualities.

Guarnizo’s actions seem to stem from hate rather than reformation. A priest is meant to inspire not degrade; power trips have no place in the church.

So far, Guarnizo has refused to apologize, and despite Johnson’s attempts to reach out to the priest, she has received no response.

Lucas Sepulveda is a creative writing and media production junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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  • Rebecca Duncan

    The scandalous behavior of Barbara Johnson casts an unfortunate light on all lesbians. In a church, at a Mass dedicated first of all to the presence of Jesus, and secondarily to her mother's funeral, she has tried (and as far as the media is concerned, has succeeded) to make it all about herself. She was present at a Catholic Mass, and therefore if she were to act as a reasonable adult she would respect the rules of the church. She was there because her mother was Catholic. Out of respect for her mother, if for no other reason, she should have shown respect to the Church her mother loved and was a member of. Instead, she is acting like a little kid, saying "GIMME! GIMME!" And she wants the priest to apologize? What is wrong with this picture?

    If she does not want to respect to the laws of the Church, if she does not want to respect the other members of the church, if she does not want to respect her own mother at the mother's funeral, why is she presenting herself for communion at the Church, an act which is the greatest act of union with our brothers and sisters in the Church? Does she think that if she has enough temper tantrums she can remake the church in her own image?

    • Jenwha

      I totally agree.

    • Enrique Vasquez

      I've been to a Catholic Church and have witnessed openly lesbian couples receive "the body of christ" from the priest without hesitation.

      If the church truly believes the way you are stating to "respect the laws of the Church", then why does the Archdiocese feel the need to apologize?

      I wonder if you have ever felt dicriminated against for being a woman? After all the bible does say "1 Timothy 2:11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission."

      You are obviously not respecting the church.

  • Adrian

    This is why I stay AWAY from church. Catholic church and gay people do not mix. I do agree with Rebecca. As a gay person, i would never go and receive holy communion at a church. We all know that is for people who have repented of their sins. But on the flip side, most of the people who attend Sunday mass religiously are the ones that are out committing most of the 7 deadly sins. Now my question to all you hardcore catholic people who see this as if it was the right thing to do, why wouldn't priests deny the holy sacrament to OBESE people? gluttony is a sin, is it not? So technically the priest got to pick and choose what sins are greater than others, right? This was wrong. Both parties were to blame. If you cannot follow the rules of the church, then do not pretend to follow the traditions to the T, and if the priest can distinguish one sin being greater than the other, then he has no business being a priest. This is just my opinion.

  • Jeff Cook

    She should have had a young boy with her the church knows how to look the other way when that happens. This is why I invite you all to join my church. We believe that there are two kinds of people in the world. Good people and bad people. The only commandment that is needed is Don't Hurt Anyone.

  • Ben

    I'm just re-posting this again as it was taken down without any specific reason being given by any moderator responsible for it, so I presume it is another act of censorship.



  • Mike Wazowski

    So this lady went to a known anti-gay organization, and was discriminated against? Does she deserve an apology or an idiot prize?

    If a WBC member showed up to a LGBT rally, would they be honored or heckled? Most like heckled, I am thinking. Would they deserve an apology? No.

  • P. G.. Staff

    Reading some of these comments, proves too me. Love they neighbor as they self is not part of what these, so callled catholics believe. . Only whole sale haterded. Who else is on thier on hate lists

  • Gues

    What I think everyone is forgetting is that this woman KNOWS she was not practicing the principles of her religion. How she was brazen enough to ask for the Holy Sacrament of Communion is beyond me….it was as if she were fooling herself into thinking her actions are acceptable to the church and God. The Church should have question her motives. Yes the church is full of sinners but we go to church for guidance and to try and live a life that is acceptable to society and God. I am not homophobic by any means but I have not received communion in a long time because of a relationship I am in but I would never have the nerve to accept communion knowing my sin. text right here!

  • Joe Setter

    Enter text right here!This woman was grieving and should be prayed for in her hour of.
    But she grew up Catholis and knows if she is living in sin, then she should not take the Body of Christ. This is not a right but a gift.
    If one does not believe in the Body of Christ or not accept the Church's teaching, then there is no reason to reason accept fot selfish reasons.
    As far as a public statement by the priest, it is also wrong for radical gays dressed in nun's habits to mockingly receive Communion as is done in a San Fransico Parish.
    These are the Churches rules and teachings. Not a democratic process.

  • Jose francisco

    Rebeca & Joe both are correct and as catholic need to defend our beliefs,if they do not like it let them leave because of people like her we have a humanity disfunction our faith will prevail God Bless us and forgive her,Jesus told the woman you are forgiven go and sin no more

  • Odile H. Williams

    A priests role is not to be a social worker
    A bishop is not supposed to be a politician .

  • GodsGadfly

    This is insane. She's not even Catholic. She's a Buddhist. There was a time when non-Catholics were not even permitted at the Liturgy of the Eucharist to protect the honor of the sacred mysteries. St. Tarcisius was martyred to protect the Eucharist from even being seen by non-Catholics.
    The Archdiocese of Washington should be ashamed of itself. The woman is not owed an apology. The Archdiocese owes an apology to Jesus and to the entire Catholic Church.

  • Sue

    First or all, this priest was suspended because he engaged in intimidating behavior torwards parish staff and others, necessarily in regards to this woman.
    Apologize – Yes SHE should apologize to the priest. She is not a catholic – therefore she has no business receiving communion. If she is catholic she is living in the state of grave sin, according to the church's practices and – has no business receiving communion without devowing herself of that sin.
    It appears that she just used her mother's funeral mass as an opportunity to politicize the church's opposition to same sex marriage. In which case she is ttoally disrespectful of her dead mother, her mother's beliefs as well as to the church. You do not have to agree with the church but you should respect what it believes and practices.

  • Kevin

    Catholicism is not about being politically correct, nor is it a pantheistic religion. Those outside of the Church are not to receive the Eucharist, much less non believers. To knowingly allow this would be sacrilege. What’s more, regardless of one’s orientation, one cannot live with someone else outside of marriage. If one knows nothing, one should say nothing.

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