Barbara Johnson denied communion at mother's funeral due to sexual orientation

Barbara Johnson (Photo: WJLA)

On Feb. 25, Barbara Johnson went to the funeral of her mother to mourn her loss at the St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg.

However, the memory of her mother was quickly overshadowed by the actions of the priest, Rev. Marcel Guanizo, who refused to giver her communion because she was a lesbian.

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"When I arrived before him, he covered the bowl with the Euchrist with his hand," Johnson said. "He looked at me and said, 'I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman, and that is a sin in the eyes of the church.'"

The priest then left the ceremony during her eulogy, then did not attend the burial.

"I don't want to make this about the church or gay rights; it's about one priest who denied the family the proper respect owed a personal time of one's life," Larry Johnson, Barbara's brother, said.

Barbara, who has lived with her partner for 19 years, wants an apology and assurances that the priest will be removed from parish life.

Though there has been no action to remove Rev. Guarnizo, Bishop Barry Knestout of the Archdiocese of Washington sent apology letters to the family, saying that "what should have been a celebration of (your) mother's life was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity."