Just this past weekend, a woman identified as Barbara who was at her mother’s funeral in Maryland was denied communion by the priest on the grounds that she is a lesbian — after which, the priest, Father Marcel Guarnizo, told the funeral director that he was unable to go to the gravesite and say the final blessing because he was sick.
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.”
Barbara, writes Werner, “cares deeply for her family and … loved her mother and her mother loved her right back.” As a result of treatment by the priest that was uncalled for and inhumane, Barbara “will never set foot in a Catholic church again and who can blame her?”.
Fr. Guarnizo is the Vicar at Saint John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, says The New Civil Rights Movement. He is also an anti-choice activist who, in one speech, referred to an abortion clinic (which he mentioned by name) as a “veritable death camp”; this particular speech can be seen on Vimeo.
As Werner underscores, Fr. Guarnizo’s denial of communion to Barbara because she is a lesbian is all the more troubling — insidious and downright wrong — as it happened in Maryland, a “state that has just proclaimed that all are equal and has enshrined that concept into state law.” Fr. Guarnizo’s actions indeed “highlight[s] the lengths to which the right will go” to do nothing less than demonize gay and lesbian people. So much for the priesthood being a vocation in which one is called to assist those who are in need and especially at the time of a loved one’s death.
Asked for a comment by The New Civil Rights Movement, “Father Guarnizo did not immediately respond.”
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Photo by York Minster