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Woman: Priest denied me Communion at mom's funeral because I'm gay

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Barbara Johnson knew last Saturday, the day of her mother’s funeral, would be difficult. But she and her lesbian partner of 20 years had no idea that the priest at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md., would be a source of her grief.

Johnson, 51, of Washington, D.C, walked into the church, mourning the mom she described to msnbc.com as “a really cool woman; she was 85 going on 58.”

When Johnson and her partner arrived at the church – which her mom had attended, and her dad, too, before he died years prior – they were summoned by Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, a man they were meeting for the first time. He didn’t express his condolences, Johnson said, instead curtly getting down to business.

Johnson had painfully written a eulogy; her niece had also penned one. “We only allow one eulogy,” Guarnizo informed them, despite the fact that the church’s music director had told them otherwise, Johnson told msnbc.com. Johnson said she asked her partner to plead with Guarnizo to allow for two while she was called away for her pallbearer duties.

The day, already tense, was about to get significantly worse. Johnson said the priest denied her Communion at her own mother's funeral, telling her he couldn't give it to her because she was gay.

When it came time to hand out bread and wine, Guarnizo “issued a strong admonition that only Catholics in a state of grace can receive Communion,” Johnson told msnbc.com. “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.”

But he wasn’t finished, Johnson said. Guarnizo had finally agreed to allow two eulogies, but she said family members told her that he proceeded to walk out of the service in the middle of Johnson’s dedication to her mother – something he didn’t do during her niece’s eulogy.

As the final insult, Johnson told msnbc.com, Guarnizo failed to attend her mother’s burial: “When the funeral home director appears, he says, ‘Father Marcel has taken ill. He says he has a migraine and is unable to accompany your mother’s remains to the cemetery.’ This was, for me and my family, his most egregious act.”

The Johnsons now want Guarnizo removed from his post, and are seeking an apology from him.

“You brought your politics, not your God into that Church yesterday, and you will pay dearly on the day of judgment for judging me,” Barbara Johnson wrote in a letter to Guarnizo. “I will pray for your soul, but first I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families.”

Msnbc.com emailed Guarnizo on Wednesday but did not receive any response from him. Long videos online show him delivering anti-choice speeches, calling abortion clinics “veritable death camps.”

Priest doesn't apologize, but archdiocese does

Johnson, whose story was first reported in The Washington Post, said that Guarnizo has yet to apologize to her family or make any public remarks, but on Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Washington sent Johnson a letter of apology after she spoke with the secretary there.

“In my years as a priest, I have encountered many pastoral situations and know that kindness to those experiencing personal loss is a necessary part of the Church’s call to charity,” said the letter, signed by Rev. Barry Knestout of the archdiocese. “The fact that you did not experience this is a cause of great concern and personal regret to me. It is understandable that you and your family would expect the funeral of your mother to be a time of fond remembrance of her life and comfort from the Church in the midst of family grief.”

The letter apologized for the “lack of pastoral sensitivity.”

Guarnizo’s behavior was against the Archdiocese of Washington’s policy, according to a statement issued by officials.

“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,” the statement said. “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.”

When asked how she identifies herself religiously, Johnson told msnbc.com, “I’m a Catholic. I’m deeply influenced by eastern religion philosophy and the nonviolence of Gandhi and the Dalai Lama along with my church upbringing.”

Her parents worked hard to provide a Catholic school upbringing for her and her siblings.

“I’ve had a very rich and complex relationship with the Catholic church. As an adult, being a lesbian presents conflicts with one’s spirituality. I’ve been fortunate particularly in the last several years – I’ve received Communion every time I’ve gone to church,” she said.

'My mother loved the Catholic Church ... If she loved it, it was good'

For Johnson, however, the Catholic Church and Guarnizo are totally separate.

“It’s very important for everyone to know that my mother loved the Catholic Church. Her life was not celebrated properly; she wasn’t treated with respect by Father Marcel. His actions have turned people. I have gotten email upon email saying, ‘I’m not going back,’ and I say, ‘Please go back, because that man does not represent the Catholic Church.’ My mother loved the Catholic Church, and if she loved it, it was good.”

Johnson said she’s been overwhelmed by the support she has received from elsewhere in the church since the funeral.

“That’s where I’m focusing. Our family’s mission is to heal. The thing that would be required for that, we believe, would be an apology from Father Marcel. We greatly appreciate the apology from the Archdiocese. We also think he needs to be removed from parish life so no one ever has to experience this on the most tragic day of their lives again.”

Gay and lesbian-friendly faith leaders have backed Johnson.

“Shunning a grieving daughter at her mother’s funeral is a heartless act that violates the great commandment Jesus gave us to love God and love our neighbor. When judgment trumps compassion the Gospel is lost. My heart goes out to a lesbian daughter who loved her mom enough to eulogize her while enduring such unfaithful actions,” said Rev. Troy Plummer, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network with United Methodist Church.

Added Dr. Michael Adee, executive director of More Light Presbyterians: “We grieve that this daughter and her family experienced judgment rather than grace and care. We cannot imagine how a priest or pastor could fail to provide pastoral care during the funeral of a loved one.”

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/29/10541571-woman-priest-denied-me-communion-at-moms-funeral-because-im-gay

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Lets say instead of this case, lets say a man was living with a married woman and the priest refused to serve him Communion, would that be acceptable?

I havn't checked but I'm betting the "location and event" has nothing to do with the requirements for who is ready to receive the most sacred of sacraments.

Steve you consider yourself a good Catholic (though in rebellion) why don't you post the guidelines concerning Confession according to the RCC.

THIS MIGHT CLEAR THINGS UP A BIT.


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"Those people who will not be governed by God


will be ruled by tyrants."



William Penn

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Lets say instead of this case, lets say a man was living with a married woman and the priest refused to serve him Communion, would that be acceptable?

I havn't checked but I'm betting the "location and event" has nothing to do with the requirements for who is ready to receive the most sacred of sacraments.

Steve you consider yourself a good Catholic (though in rebellion) why don't you post the guidelines concerning Confession according to the RCC.

THIS MIGHT CLEAR THINGS UP A BIT.

I live with a married woman! Most happily married men do! But I know what you are getting at and I think you suffer from the same right wing bigotry that this priest apparently does. Where in the Bible does Jesus say that being lesbian is a special, unforgivable category of sin that precludes communion? Or that adultery is likewise such a uniquely egregious sin? There actually are passages suggesting the opposite in the case of adultery! You attempt to use whatever religious and legal hammers that you can to punish those who have a different lifestyle than you. If you believe there really is a heaven and a hell I would suggest you do some research and soul-searching to see if your destination may be more southerly than what you might prefer!

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As a Catholic, I haven't met many truly inspirational/spirit-filled Priests. However, when I was living in Michigan I did have the opportunity to become close with a deeply spiritual and inspirational Priest. I remember talking to him about receiving Communion. He and I were not on the same page as to whom may receive it, in the eyes of the Church so I asked for his, and the Church's explanation. I thought his words to me were spoken with true wisdom when he told me, "The Eucharist is the Church's most sacred sacrament and should be taken seriously by devoted Catholics. Therefore, the Church does believe that a person should be in a state of grace when they receive the Eucharist. However, when a person comes up the line for communion, I won't deny them the sacrament, that is between them and the Lord."

He was/is a great Priest, and that is a difficult job! :yes:

Blessings, VJB


“Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.” Saint Seraphim of Sarov

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“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?” Pablo Cassals

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This seems a fairly simple matter.

The Catholic Church considers Holy Communion a sacrament reserved for Catholics in a state of grace. The Catholic Church considers homosexualality a sin. If a Catholic was practicing homosexuality but then repented, and sought confession, they would be eligible for Communion. Same for other sins. This person was apparently living in what the Church considers to be a sinful state, and actively practicing a homosexual lifestyle- no repentance; no confession; no attempt to rectify the (according to the Church) sinful behavior.

Call it "right-wing bigotry", or "religious bigotry" or whatever.... Moral relativists rankle at the idea that any institution has beliefs that don't square with their own.


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The Catholic Church considers homosexualality a sin.

That is completely wrong.

What is the official Catholic teaching about homosexuality? In the mid-1970s, the Vatican recognized the difference between being homosexual and engaging in homogenital (same-sex) acts. Catholic teaching holds that, as a state beyond a person's choice, being homosexual is not wrong. But just as it is wrong for unmarried heterosexuals to engage in sex, so, too, homogenital acts are wrong.

The Church also teaches understanding and compassion toward gay and lesbian people. In their 1976 statement, To Live in Christ Jesus, the American bishops wrote, "Some persons find themselves through no fault of their own to have a homosexual orientation. Homosexuals, like everyone else, should not suffer from prejudice against their basic human rights. They have a right to respect, friendship, and justice. They should have an active role in the Christian community.… The Christian community should provide them a special degree of pastoral understanding and care." In 1990, in their instruction, Human Sexuality, the Catholic Bishops repeated this teaching, which is also in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In 1997, the U.S. Catholic Bishops published Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers. Addressing lesbians and gay men, the bishops said, "In you God's love is revealed." The bishops encouraged families to remain connected when a member revealed his or her homosexuality and called for the establishment of ministries sensitive to the needs of gay and lesbian Catholics and their families.

http://www.dignityusa.org/faq.html

......

The part in bold above is what Right Wing Catholics fail to understand. How many Catholics of all political persuasions, actually were celibate until the night after taking their wedding vows? Celibacy before marriage is almost nonexistent among modern Catholics as with most other religious groups. So, for a community that largely engages in unmarried sex, pointing the finger at homosexual sex as something somehow more grave in sin is a fallacy.

Edited by Mister Fancypants

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That is completely wrong.

http://www.dignityusa.org/faq.html

......

The part in bold above is what Right Wing Catholics fail to understand. How many Catholics of all political persuasions, actually were celibate until the night after taking their wedding vows? Celibacy before marriage is almost nonexistent among modern Catholics as with most other religious groups. So, for a community that largely engages in unmarried sex, pointing the finger at homosexual sex as something somehow more grave in sin is a fallacy.

It certainly is not completely wrong. What you pointed out here is essentially what I pointed to in my reply. The Church recognizes that all people sin. You'll notice that I said "practicing homosexuality".... the Church distinguishes between natural impulses (like sexual attraction), and actively and unrepentantly practicing what the Church understands to be sinful behavior.

"Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Orientation: Guidelines for Pastoral Care" says that the inclination [to homosexuality] is not wrong but that acting on it is. It condemns bigotry against gay people -- while arguing that not permitting gay people to marry is not bigotry because marriage is intrinsically heterosexual. None of the teaching is new, but there is an attempt to explain it in more clear, positive language than some documents of the past.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06319/738380-84.stm

The Church is doing what the rest of society must do.... adapt and clarify in order to deal with the changing structures of human interaction, while remaining true to the core teachings of the Church.

So I was, in fact, completely correct....not "completely wrong." Homosexual behavior is a sin in the eyes of the Church, and a priest is correct in withholding Communion given that the person asking for that communion apparently did not seek atonement in any way.

Edited by xebec

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As a Catholic, I haven't met many truly inspirational/spirit-filled Priests. However, when I was living in Michigan I did have the opportunity to become close with a deeply spiritual and inspirational Priest. I remember talking to him about receiving Communion. He and I were not on the same page as to whom may receive it, in the eyes of the Church so I asked for his, and the Church's explanation. I thought his words to me were spoken with true wisdom when he told me, "The Eucharist is the Church's most sacred sacrament and should be taken seriously by devoted Catholics. Therefore, the Church does believe that a person should be in a state of grace when they receive the Eucharist. However, when a person comes up the line for communion, I won't deny them the sacrament, that is between them and the Lord."

He was/is a great Priest, and that is a difficult job! :yes:

Blessings, VJB

I like that. Our priest would never deny the communion. Even for me and I ain't Catholic yet. My wife would kick my azz though.

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So the church is supposed to bow down now and give Communion to homosexuals? I mean why is this even news?

http://www.catholic.com/tracts/homosexuality

Every human being is called to receive a gift of divine sonship, to become a child of God by grace. However, to receive this gift, we must reject sin, including homosexual behavior—that is, acts intended to arouse or stimulate a sexual response regarding a person of the same sex. The Catholic Church teaches that such acts are always violations of divine and natural law.

Homosexual desires, however, are not in themselves sinful. People are subject to a wide variety of sinful desires over which they have little direct control, but these do not become sinful until a person acts upon them, either by acting out the desire or by encouraging the desire and deliberately engaging in fantasies about acting it out. People tempted by homosexual desires, like people tempted by improper heterosexual desires, are not sinning until they act upon those desires in some manner.

Divine Law

The rejection of homosexual behavior that is found in the Old Testament is well known. In Genesis 19, two angels in disguise visit the city of Sodom and are offered hospitality and shelter by Lot. During the night, the men of Sodom demand that Lot hand over his guests for homosexual intercourse. Lot refuses, and the angels blind the men of Sodom. Lot and his household escape, and the town is destroyed by fire "because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord" (Gen. 19:13).

Throughout history, Jewish and Christian scholars have recognized that one of the chief sins involved in God’s destruction of Sodom was its people’s homosexual behavior. But today, certain homosexual activists promote the idea that the sin of Sodom was merely a lack of hospitality. Although inhospitality is a sin, it is clearly the homosexual behavior of the Sodomites that is singled out for special criticism in the account of their city’s destruction. We must look to Scripture’s own interpretation of the sin of Sodom.

Jude 7 records that Sodom and Gomorrah "acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust." Ezekiel says that Sodom committed "abominable things" (Ezek. 16:50), which could refer to homosexual and heterosexual acts of sin. Lot even offered his two virgin daughters in place of his guests, but the men of Sodom rejected the offer, preferring homosexual sex over heterosexual sex (Gen. 19:8–9). Ezekiel does allude to a lack of hospitality in saying that Sodom "did not aid the poor and needy" (Ezek. 16:49). So homosexual acts and a lack of hospitality both contributed to the destruction of Sodom, with the former being the far greater sin, the "abominable thing" that set off God’s wrath.

But the Sodom incident is not the only time the Old Testament deals with homosexuality. An explicit condemnation is found in the book of Leviticus: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. . . . If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them" (Lev. 18:22, 20:13).

Edited by Why_Me

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"I want to take this opportunity to mention how thankful I am for an Obama re-election. The choice was clear. We cannot live in a country that treats homosexuals and women as second class citizens. Homosexuals deserve all of the rights and benefits of marriage that heterosexuals receive. Women deserve to be treated with respect and their salaries should not depend on their gender, but their quality of work. I am also thankful that the great, progressive state of California once again voted for the correct President. America is moving forward, and the direction is a positive one."

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Why aren't religious institutions allowed to discriminate?


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Why aren't religious institutions allowed to discriminate?

The libs figure the church should just go against everything it stands for and believes in as to appease the lib agenda.


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"I want to take this opportunity to mention how thankful I am for an Obama re-election. The choice was clear. We cannot live in a country that treats homosexuals and women as second class citizens. Homosexuals deserve all of the rights and benefits of marriage that heterosexuals receive. Women deserve to be treated with respect and their salaries should not depend on their gender, but their quality of work. I am also thankful that the great, progressive state of California once again voted for the correct President. America is moving forward, and the direction is a positive one."

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I live with a married woman! Most happily married men do! But I know what you are getting at and I think you suffer from the same right wing bigotry that this priest apparently does. Where in the Bible does Jesus say that being lesbian is a special, unforgivable category of sin that precludes communion? Or that adultery is likewise such a uniquely egregious sin? There actually are passages suggesting the opposite in the case of adultery! You attempt to use whatever religious and legal hammers that you can to punish those who have a different lifestyle than you. If you believe there really is a heaven and a hell I would suggest you do some research and soul-searching to see if your destination may be more southerly than what you might prefer!

James you are flailing.

Your interpretations of the bible are meaningless here, what we are talking about is an Religious institution and how "they" define these matters.

As yet no one has posted the Dogma of Rome.

Rome in the final word, not you not me, not even some American Bishop somewhere giving an opinion.


type2homophobia_zpsf8eddc83.jpg




"Those people who will not be governed by God


will be ruled by tyrants."



William Penn

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James you are flailing.

Your interpretations of the bible are meaningless here, what we are talking about is an Religious institution and how "they" define these matters.

As yet no one has posted the Dogma of Rome.

Rome in the final word, not you not me, not even some American Bishop somewhere giving an opinion.

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=vatican+position+on+homosexuality&oq=vatican+on+**&aq=3b&aqi=g1g-v1g-b4&aql=&gs_sm=1&gs_upl=1054l5303l0l12179l15l15l0l0l0l0l702l9688l5-14.1l15l0&gs_l=hp.1.3.0j0i15j0i8l4.1054l5303l0l12179l15l15l0l0l0l0l702l9688l5-14j1l15l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=994a272661dedc15&biw=1440&bih=775 <---- This is the Vatican's position on homosexuality. Steven or anyone else can try to spin it anyway they want but it's obvious where the Roman Catholic Church stands on homosexuality.


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"I want to take this opportunity to mention how thankful I am for an Obama re-election. The choice was clear. We cannot live in a country that treats homosexuals and women as second class citizens. Homosexuals deserve all of the rights and benefits of marriage that heterosexuals receive. Women deserve to be treated with respect and their salaries should not depend on their gender, but their quality of work. I am also thankful that the great, progressive state of California once again voted for the correct President. America is moving forward, and the direction is a positive one."

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