Father Marcel Guarnizo

March 13, 2012 by staff 

Father Marcel Guarnizo, A priest who denied communion to lsbn at her mother’s funeral because she was ‘living in sin’ has been suspended for ‘intimidating behaviour’

Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, who last month denied Barbara Johnson the bread and wine at the funeral mass, has been placed on administrative leave from the ministry in the Washington archdiocese.

Johnson, who attended the funeral with her partner of 20 years, stood first in the line to receive the communion at Saint John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland on February 25.

But Father Marcel Guarnizo reportedly covered the bowl and said: ‘I cannot give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the Church, that is a sin.’

The Washington Post learned of the suspension from a letter dated March 9 to other archdiocesan priests.

In it, Bishop Barry Knestout, a top administrator in the archdiocese, says the penalty was for ‘engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry’.

The pastor at St. John Neumann, Rev. Thomas LaHood, said that the punihsment was not related to the Johnson incident, but ‘pertains to actions over the past week or two’, reports the Post.

An archdiocesan spokeswoman would not clarify if LaHood’s comments meant that Guarnizo would not be penalized for his handling of Barbara Johnson at the funeral.

Guarnizo has refused to comment on what happened at the Mass, reports the Post.

In a statement provided to the Post Johnson said: ‘We are hopeful that Bishop Knestout’s decision will ensure that no others will have to undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family.’

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