Father Marcel Guarnizo defends decision to deny communion to lesbian

Barbara Johnson

Fr. Marcel Guarnizo unleashed a lengthy defense on various Catholic websites, denying he tried to intimidate staff at St. John Neumann Church. He's on administrative leave while they investigate.

He says hid conversations were in my view civil, professional and in no way hostile.

Those conversations stemmed from his refusal to give communion to Barbara Johnson, a lesbian, at the funeral of her mother.

Guarnizo defended that too, saying she put him on the spot by coming up to receive it. Read the full statement here.

"If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such,” Guarnizo wrote, adding, “a priest would be obligated to withhold communion."

"...I did the only thing a faithful Catholic priest could do in such an awkward situation," he writes.

The ensuing uproar has many in this generally conservative parish defending Guarnizo.

“We love everyone, we accept everyone as they are,” says parishioner Simona Hallal. “But we cannot compromise the truth of the teaching of the church.”

But for Johnson's family, Guarnizo's words are a slap in the face.

“This has kind of ripped open the wound. It's filled with mischaracterizations and frankly, outright lies,” says Larry Johnson, Barbara Johnson’s brother.

Johnson said his sister never told the priest she and her partner were 'lovers' --as Guarnizo maintained. He says the priest was rude and dismissive throughout, and while the archdiocese has been apologetic and supportive, Guarnizo needs to go.

“I think my sister said there's no do-overs,” he says. “And it think that's right. My mother only had one funeral. And this priest devastated it.”