Catholic Priest Who Denied Communion to Lesbian Placed on Leave

Monday, 12 Mar 2012 02:16 PM

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A suburban Washington, D.C., Catholic priest who denied Communion to a lesbian at her mother’s funeral Mass last month has been placed on leave.

The announcement, made in a letter dated March 9 from Bishop Barry Knestout to priests in the Washington Archdiocese, does not specifically state why the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo was barred from the ministry, The Breaking News Blog of The Washington Post reported.

The punishment was for “engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry,” the Post quoted the letter as saying.

The letter was read aloud at all Masses this weekend at Maryland’s St. John Neumann by the Rev. Thomas LaHood, who said the removal was not related to the funeral incident, the Post reported.

Following the funeral incident, the archdiocese issued an apology to the woman, Barbara Johnson, and sent a letter that said denying Communion is against the policy of Archbishop Donald Wuerl.

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