Now it is really confusing: we Catholics are told that we should confess our sin before we go to communion. But now the Diocese Washington apologized that one of its priests denied communion to a lesbian who is living in an open gay relationship. Cardinal Wuerl is considered generally to be a good conservative prince of the Church. So one must really puzzle over what is happening.
From Catholic Culture February 29, 2012
The Archdiocese of Washington, DC, has issued an apology to a woman who was denied Communion by a priest who had just learned of her lesbian relationship.
Father Marcel Guarnizo declined to administer the Eucharist to Barbara Johnson at her mother’s funeral. Johnson reports that the priest told her she could not receive Communion because she was living in sin.
A spokesman for the Washington archdiocese said that Father Guarnizo’s action showed “a lack of pastoral sensitivity,” and was not in accordance with archdiocesan policy.
The Code of Canon Law (#915) stipulates that the Eucharist should not be administered to those who have been excommunicated “and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.” The canon is generally understood to mean that a sin must be flagrant and public, creating a scandal, and that the sinner should be warned privately before a priest refuses to administer the Eucharist.
Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl has indicated that he is not prepared to deny Communion even to prominent politicians who continue to support legal abortion despite repeated warnings from the hierarchy.
(Update: the report of msnbc.com on what happened before and during the funeral Mass, it is surprising that almost all, including Canon Lawyer Dr. Peters and Deacon’s Bench, only focus on the aspect of communion):
Title: Woman: Priest denied me Communion at mom’s funeral because I’m gay
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.
The Apology of the Diocese (from Deacon’s Bench) in fulltext:
Archdiocese of Washington