GAITHERSBURG, Md. — A Catholic priest at St. John Neumann Catholic Church walked out on a funeral service two weeks ago and refused to perform the grave site ritual because he was bothered by the attendance of an openly lesbian woman — the lesbian was the deceased woman’s daughter.
Father Marcel Guarnizo also denied the daughter communion at her mother’s service because she is a “sinner.”
Political Blogger Ann Werner reports:
My friend Barbara (Johnson), the daughter of the deceased woman, was denied communion at her mother’s funeral.
She was the first in line and Fr. Guarnizo covered the bowl containing the host and said to her, “I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin according to the church.”
To add insult to injury, Fr. Guarnizo left the altar when she delivered her eulogy to her mother. When the funeral was finished, he informed the funeral director that he could not go to the grave site to deliver the final blessing because he was sick.
I will tell you a little about the woman who drove that priest from the altar. She is kind, she is smart, she is funny and she works hard promoting the arts. She pays her bills, she cares deeply for her family and she loved her mother and her mother loved her right back. And now she will never set foot in a Catholic church again and who can blame her?
As the story broke this past weekend, noted author Anne Rice weighed in via Facebook, calling Guarnizo’s actions “hypocritical.”
“No priest giving out communion at a funeral mass examines each and every person for sins, for adultery, for living out of wedlock with a lover, for having embezzled money, for having committed sins of greed or anger.” Rice wrote. “And yet this priest dares to refuse communion to an openly gay person? Why? What if the woman had gone to confession that morning? It’s outrageous to stigmatize and treat gays in a persecuting way.”
Brie Hall, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington released this statement in response to growing outrage:
“In matters of faith and morals, the Church has the responsibility of teaching and of bringing the light of the Gospel message to the circumstances of our day.
“When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any … issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.
“The archdiocese is looking into the incident at a funeral Mass that was celebrated by Fr. Marcel Guarnizo and will handle this as a personnel issue.”
The church’s pastor, Reverend Thomas G. LaHood, refused to comment when contacted by LGBTQ Nation.