Fr Marcel Guranizo Defends Himself

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).

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How the Bishops’ War on Gay Marriage, Contraception Could Be Good News for the Church

In the UK, it’s gay marriage. In the US, it’s contraception, and communion denial or loss of employment for some individual lesbian or gay Catholics. For the pope, it’s all those who reject the Vatican’s disordered sexual teaching, on contraception and cohabitation, as well as gay marriage. It really does seem as though the Catholic oligarchs have declared all – out war, not only on gay marriage, but on all the Church’s sexual dissidents. In practice, that means most Catholics, so let’s step back a while, away from the specifics and hysteria, and two insightful commentaries at Washington Post and Religion Dispatches, look at the bigger picture, which progressive Catholics should find encouraging – and the orthotoxic variety wringing their hands, even more than usual.

I offer once again, slightly adapted, this quote at Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish, referring to possible war between Israel and Iran – but equally applicable to the Catholi bishops’ war on ordinary Catholics:

“We are going to ignite, at least from my point of view, a regional holy war. And wars, you know how they start. You never know how you are ending it” 


Reaction to Communion Denial

There has been strong, and encouraging, reaction to Fr Guarnizo’s refusal of communion to a woman at her mother’s funeral. First, and most important, is the official reaction of the Archdiocese. In a short statement, they said they would look into the incident as a personnel issue – and made a clear statement of diocesan policy, showing clearly that the priest’s action contravened policy.

 D.C. archdiocese: Denying Communion to lesbian at funeral was against ‘policy’

“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.”

Messages for Guarnizo and other parish staff were not returned. Neither he nor other parish leaders were at the church or the rectory Tuesday night.

Active Catholics in the Greater Washington region said they could not recall another recent occasion when a priest had refused to administer the sacrament to a gay Catholic. Guarnizo’s refusal, they said, seemed at odds with the strong stand against denial of Communion to Catholics enunciated by the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

Wuerl said he did not believe in denying Communion because it is impossible to know what is in another person’s heart. The issue took off during the 2004 presidential campaign, when some conservative Catholic leaders said that Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, should be denied Communion because of his pro-choice views.

- The Washington Post.


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