When I placed a report that Fr Marcel Guranizo had been suspended from active ministry (supposedly not his actions towards Barbara Johnson at her mom’s funeral, but for other problems with his behaviour, an aggrieved reader placed a reasonable question in the comments:
um…you know that this is not the full story. Bringing up private matters that have no place in a funeral to someone you know is very traditional and then refusing to let them speak to you before mass starts and then calling the press and LIEING on a number of issues does not qualify as a “victim of intimidation”. I am curious as to why you did not post the other side of the story, yet continue to post updates about his punishment…
The answer, which I confess I have not yet had the courtesy to place, was that I had not come across any statement of his side of the story, anywhere, which went beyond the bounds of sheer speculation: “He must have….”, or “he would have….” and the like, or equally speculative assumptions that Ms Johnson herself was at fault, on the assumption that she deliberately aimed to politicize the problem
Now, a week after his suspension, Fr Guranizo has issued a statement in his own defence, extracts of which have been reported by the Washington Post.
Guarnizo said in his statement that public pressure to give Communion to the wrong people will force “the cruelest crisis of conscience that can be imposed.”
“It seems to me, the lack of clarity on this most basic issue puts at risk other priests who wish to serve the Catholic Church in Washington D.C.,” he said.
“What happened I believe contains a warning to the church. Such circumstances can and will be repeated multiple times over if the local church does not make clear to all Catholics that openly confessing sin is something one does to a priest in the confessional, not minutes before the Mass,” he said. “I am confident that my own view, that I did the only thing a faithful Catholic priest could do in such an awkward situation, quietly, with no intention to hurt or embarrass, will be upheld.”
These are statements defend his motivation. His account of the actual events is disputed by the family.
In describing the incident, Guarnizo said Barbara Johnson and her partner came in “completely unsolicited” and identified themselves as “lovers.”
The family’s version, which is as they have presented it from the start
The Johnsons said the women’s relationship came up inadvertently when Guarnizo, during a discussion of pre-Mass logistics, asked who the other woman was, and the other woman replied, “I’m her partner.”
For more, read the longer post at Bondings/New Ways Ministry.
(UPDATE: also see the useful comment added below by Chris, which gives this link to the complete statement).
(I have run out of time, to do more myself. I must leave shortly for the evening’s work,and have a busy weekend. I’m committed to a meeting in London tomorrow (the conference/AGM of the “Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality”,CSCM), and on Sunday my granddaughter’s 3rd birthday, followed by Mass in Soho. I’ll have very limited time for anthing more, before Monday).
- Reaction to Communion Denial
- In Denying Communion at Mother’s Funeral, Priest Contravened the Catechism
- Priest’s Defense of His Communion Denial is Contradicted by Statements from Lesbian Woman and Her Brother (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- Father Guarnizo Tells His Story: “A Warning to the Church” (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Quick News Addendum: Father Guarnizo Suspended (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Priest Who Denied Communion to Lesbian on Administrative Leave (mlp.org)