SPECIAL REPORT: Fr. Marcel Guarnizo Defends Himself Against Accusers

Marcel_Guiz-192x192
Many Crisis readers are concerned at the reports that have begun to emerge regarding Fr. Marcel Guarnizo’s denial of Communion to the alleged lesbian Barbara Johnson and the subsequent loss of his priestly faculties upon the authority of Cardinal Wuerl and communicated through a letter by Bishop Knestout, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C..   Crisis has been granted permission by Fr. Marcel Guarnizo to publish his account of the event in the hopes that this may help Catholics discern with charity what has happened.Fr. Marcel Guarnizo’s Statement of March 14, 2012:

I would like to begin by once again sending my condolences to the Johnson family on the death of Mrs. Loetta Johnson.

I also feel obliged to answer questions from my parishioners, as well as from the public, about the incident on February 25th.

Here are the facts:  On Saturday February 25th I showed up to officiate at a funeral Mass for Mrs. Loetta Johnson. The arrangements for the Mass were also not my own. I wish to clarify that Ms. Barbara Johnson (the woman who has since complained to the press), has never been a parishioner of mine. In fact I had never met her or her family until that morning.

The funeral celebration was to commence at 10:30a.m. From 9:30 to 10:20, I was assigned to hear confessions for the parish and anyone in the funeral party who would have chosen to receive the sacrament.

A few minutes before the Mass began, Ms. Johnson came into the sacristy with another woman whom she announced as her “lover”. Her revelation was completely unsolicited. As I attempted to follow Ms.Johnson, her lover stood in our narrow sacristy physically blocking my pathway to the door. I politely asked her to move and she refused.

I understand and agree it is the policy of the Archdiocese to assume good faith when a Catholic presents himself for communion; like most priests I am not at all eager to withhold communion. But the ideal cannot always be achieved in life.

In the past ten days, many Catholics have referenced canon 915 in regard to this specific circumstance. There are other reasons for denying communion which neither meet the threshold of canon 915 or have any explicit connection to the discipline stated in that canon.

If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion. If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either.  If a Catholic, divorced and remarried (without an annulment) would make that known in my sacristy, they too according to Catholic doctrine, would be impeded from receiving communion. This has nothing to do with canon 915. Ms. Johnson’s circumstances are precisely one of those relations which impede her access to communion according to Catholic teaching. Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church.

In all of the above circumstances, I would have been placed in a similar uncomfortable position. Under these circumstances, I quietly withheld communion, so quietly that even the Eucharistic Minister standing four feet from me was not aware I had done so.  (In fact Ms. Johnson promptly chose to go to the Eucharistic minister to receive communion and did so.) There was no scandal, no “public reprimand” and no small lecture as some have reported.

Details matter. Ms. Johnson was not kneeling when she approached for communion, she did not receive the cup as the press has reported she has stated. It is the policy of St. John Neumann parish never to distribute under both species during funerals.

During the two eulogies (nearly 25 minutes long), I quietly slipped for some minutes into the sacristy lavatory to recover from the migraine that was coming on. I never walked out on Mrs. Loetta Johnson’s funeral and the liturgy was carried out with the same reverence and care that I celebrate every Mass. I finished the Mass and accompanied the body of the deceased in formal procession to the hearse, which was headed to the cemetery. I am subject to occasional severe migraines, and because the pain at that point was becoming disabling, I communicated to our funeral director that I was incapacitated and he arranged one of my brother priests to be present at the cemetery to preside over the rite of burial. Furthermore as the testimony of the priest that was at the cemetery conveys, he was present when the Johnson family arrived, and in fact mentioned that being called to cover the burial rite is quite normal, as many priests for reasons much less significant than mine (rush hour traffic for example) do not make the voyage to the cemetery. He routinely covers for them. This change in plans, was also invisible to the rest of the entourage. Regrets and information about my incapacitating migraine were duly conveyed to the Johnson family.

I have thanked the funeral director and the priest at the burial site, for their assistance that day. Mrs. Loetta Johnson was properly buried with every witness and ceremony a Catholic funeral can offer. I did not and would not refuse to accompany Barbara Johnson and her mother to the cemetery because she is gay or lives with a woman. I did not in any way seek to dishonor Mrs. Johnson’s memory, and my homily at the funeral should have made that quite evident to all in the pews, including the Johnson family.

I would like to extend again to Ms. Johnson and her family, my sincerest condolences on her mother’s death.  I would never intentionally want or seek to embarrass anyone publicly or increase anyone’s emotional distress during such a difficult time. I did not seek or contrive these circumstances.

But I am going to defend my conduct in these instances, because 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 in which the Holy Eucharist is given.

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.

Otherwise any priest could-and many will-face 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 theCatholic Church in Washington D.C.

As to the latest allegations, I feel obliged to alleviate unnecessary suffering for the faithful at St. John Neumann and others who are following the case.

I wish to state that in conversation with Bishop Barry Knestout on the morning of March 13, he made it very clear that the whole of the case regarding the allegations of “intimidation” are circumscribed to two conversations; one with the funeral director and the other with a parish staff member present at the funeral. These conversations took place on March 7th and 8th, one day before the archdiocese’s latest decision to withdraw faculties (not suspend, since Cardinal Wuerl is not my bishop) on the 9th of March. I am fully aware of both meetings. And indeed contrary to the statement read on Sunday March 11th during all Masses at St. John Neumann, both instances have everything to do with the Eucharistic incident. There is no hidden other sin or “intimidation” allegations that they are working on, outside of these two meetings. The meetings in question, occurred in our effort to document from people at the funeral Mass in written form a few facts about the nature of the incident. We have collected more than a few testimonies and affidavits, testifying to what really took place during the funeral liturgy.

My personal conversation with both parties in question were in my view civil, professional and in no way hostile. I respect both individuals in question and really do not know the nature of their grievance.

On March 13, I asked Bishop Knestout about detail on this matter but he stated that he was not at liberty to discuss the matter. I would only add for the record, that the letter removing me from pastoral work in the Archdiocese of Washington, was already signed and sealed and on the table when I met with Bishop Knestout on March 9, even before he asked me the first question about the alleged clash.

In the days to come I look forward to addressing any confusion about the above conversations if the Archdiocese or the persons involved wish to talk about it publicly or privately.

I am grateful for all the good wishes and prayers I have received. And sincerely, having lost my own mother not long ago, I again extend my condolences to the Johnson family. I finally wish for the good of the Universal Church, the archdiocese, my parish and the peace of friends and strangers around the world, that the archdiocese would cease resolving what they call internal personnel matters of which they cannot speak, through the public media.

I remain my bishop’s and my Church’s, and above all Christ Jesus’obedient servant,

Very truly yours,

Father Marcel Guarnizo.

 

  • Chris C.

    No one was in a better position to know the particulars of the situation than Fr. Guarnizo. From all I have been able to learn about this case , my  opinion is that he honored Our Lord by his actions, and served Him well. May God Bless Fr. Guranizo in this ordeal. And the Archdiocese of Washington as well. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    God bless you, Father!  Sometimes it’s as Flannery O’Connor said, that we suffer ever so much more from the Church than for the Church.  It’s the old story: Saint John Bosco, Saint John Vianney …

  • Don Ross

    This Catholic supports your action 100 %. It is a shame that more priests  are careful to whom they distribute Holy Communion. A Catholic who stubornly refuses to accept Church teaching is atomatically excomunicated and should be denied the sacraments. My prayers are with you

  • Lopcruz

    God bless you father Guarnizo. This is clearly another case of provoking the Church by people that claim to be catholics but on their on terms.

  • Bob

    God bless, you, Father. I also believe you did the right thing. St. Paul warned in Corinthians of unworthily approaching the Eucharist, we must take heed. It was actually Christian love and charity you performed in denying Ms. Johnson communion. I have great sorrow in my own heart the times i received the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. I pray that in the quiet of the night, the Lord is whispering in her ear, that she realizes what great wrong she has committed.

  • Kevin

    God bless you Father.

  • Namilolos

    I’ve high-fived you many times while I read your reply to this persecution. Most of us in ADW have been wondering why there’s been a news black-out about your status and the allegations against you. This is a typical case of divide and conquer, and some in the church fell head-long into the trap.
    God bless you, Father. I salute and pray for you. I also pray for greater wisdom in our church. We have to be steadfast in the face of uncivil and malicious behavior from our detractors.

  • Patrick

    Dear Holy Spirit,
    Please shower Fr. Marcel with buckets of your grace, especially fortitude.

    Grace to you Father, and thank you for withstanding this attack of the evil one. Apparently you have really gotten his attention in a particular way with your work at the Germantown abortuary, and I am sure many other sacrificial activities.

    No fear!

  • Michael

    God Bless your courage in the face of political correctness by those in ecclesial authority over you.  I was going to refer to the good bishop and cardinal as your religious superiors, but it is quite clear that there behavior is hardly superior but rather pedestrian and lacking in charity. There are far too many  individuals in similiar positions of authority that would rather “discipline” Holy priests, rather than themselves taking  a courageous orthodox stand in defense of the Church.  You are in my prayers Father, as I will pray for bishops and cardinals to begin defending Church teaching in a consistent manner.

  • Denise

    Thank you for the courage of Fr. Marcel, who was doing his job as as Christ’s representative. It sounds from his account that all was done as kindly as possible, and now it remains to see how his bishop will carry out HIS job to uphold the teachings of the church as a leader. How much courage does he have?

    If you flaunt the teachings of the church, why are you even seeking communion? Honestly, people can be so dense and utterly self-centered.

  • PW

    Whats very interesting is the fact that the decision n to remove the Padre from pastoral work was a done deal ALREADY when he met him on the 9th. Very interesting, and very telling about certain things going on in the Bishop’s office.  We can only hope that, eventually, the good fight can actually be won.

  • mitchyde

    Bravo!  As a non-Christian who occasionally goes to Catholic services, I would never dream of taking communion.  If the Church gives in to bullying on this point, it will be much harder to stand its ground on any other of its beliefs, until there is nothing of substance left to it. Catholicism will then become nothing more than a fashion statement. 

    • Morrispadua

      Voltaire, a French Enlightenment philosopher, proclaimed that within 100 years of his time, the church would be swept away from existence.  Yet within 50 years of his death the Geneva Bible Society was using his home and printing press to produce boxes of Bibles.  It is almost 100 plus since his deadline.  THE WORD OF GOD STILL ENDURES. 
      Gamaliel an illustrious Jewish Doctor at whose feet the apostle Paul sat, advised his fellow members of the Sandhedrin not to kill the apostles who had continued to preach the gospel in defiance of the Jewish authorities.  His contention was that if the teaching is of man, it will soon wither away but if it be of God, they would be ineffective in stopping it.  That was almost 2000 years ago.  My friend far more intellectually superior persons than you and I have forecasted the demise of this mysterious movement.  It still endures.  Perhaps one of the great thinkers of our time Luigi Giussani said it best.  ” The claim that christianity is the one true religion should make one revulsed but to allow that claim to go unexamined is the greatest revulsion”.       

      • mitchyde

        Understood.  ….but I don’t think it happened that way without a lot of human beings standing their ground.  I wish you all success with this fight, really. 

  • Pingback: The Divine Conspiracy Blog » Blog Archive » Special Report

  • ragingindie

    I appreciate this letter. While I am in staunch disagreement with the Catholic Church’s teaching concerning gays, obviously it’s important to get both sides of the story here, and the public was not privy to Fr. Marcel’s version of things until now. As a gay man, I personally find the Catholic Church’s exclusionary policies against many to be unfortunate and not consistent with God’s love, but that isn’t for me to judge and they are free to do what they will. Ms. Johnson should’ve respected this and not thrown a fit and run to the media, crying sexual discrimination against the LGBT community. Her stance will only set the gay rights movement a step back, simply because she decided only HER thoughts and feelings were to be considered and respected. Unfortunate.

    • Lionel Andrades

      Eucharist is not to be given to the Quaker, Lutheran, and Buddhist since they are outside the Church
      The Eucharist is not to be given to the Quaker, Lutheran or Buddhist. Since outside the Church there is no salvation. They are outside the Church. They are not saved.
      Fr. Marcel Guarnizo could have been endorsing the rigorist interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. The same interpretation of Fr. Leonard Feeney, the Church Fathers, popes, Councils, Catechisms, Vatican Council I and II and Michael Voris at Real Catholic TV.com.
      Ad Gentes 7 Vatican Council II says all need to enter the Cburch for salvation. All includes the Quaker,Lutheran and Buddhist. (1). Lumen Gentium 14 says faith and baptism are necessary for salvation. The Buddhist does not have faith or baptism. The Lutheran does not have Catholic Faith.(2)
      Dominus Iesus says though Christ died for all, for salvation all need to enter the Church with faith and baptism. Non Catholics do not have faith and baptism. They need to respond and enter the Church to saved.(3)
      The dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus, the infallible teaching mentioned by Pope Pius XII in the Letter of the Holy Office says all need to convert into the Church to avoid Hell. (4)
      The Catechism of the Catholic Church repeats the teaching of Vatican Council II and other magisterial texts. All need to enter the Church with Catholic Faith and the baptism of water, one needs to enter the Church as through a door.(5) Note: There are no known cases on earth of a non Catholic saved in invincible ignorance, the baptism of desie, a good conscience, the seeds of the Word etc. We can only accept in principle that these are possibilities known only to God. So they do not contradict any of the magisterial texts mentioned above.-Lionel Andrades1.
      Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church’s preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism and into the Church which is His body. For Christ Himself “by stressing in express language the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into which men enter by baptism, as by a door.-Ad Gentes 7
      2.This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church.-Lumen Gentium 14http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2012/03/eucharist-is-not-to-be-given-to-quaker.html#links

      • http://www.wizbangblog.com David Robertson

        Fr. Guarnizo did not write his above-posted letter in order to attack the faith of people who are not members of the Roman Catholic Church. So, why has Lionel Andrades used the occasion of Fr. Guarnizo’s letter to do such a thing? Has Mr. Andrades no sense of decency? It is easy for Mr. Andrades to do what he did on a Catholic website, but would he have the courage to do the same thing at a neutral website such as beliefnet.com or debatingchristianity.com ? I don’t think so.

        Fr. Guarnizo’s words are full of grace, but not Mr. Andrades’. The latter could learn a thing or two from the former.

        As for what Fr. Guarnizo did at that particular funeral Mass, it appears to me that he is innocent of wrong-doing.

  • Prselloff

    May God Bless you, Father,  and may He touch the hearts of the two women involved that they might see their part in this fully and clearly.  I ask this in the name of Jesus our Lord.  Amen

  • Sojohowitz

    God bless you Father!

  • ljcope

    I am not a Catholic, but a Mo Synod Lutheran. We also have a closed communion, which I understand that most Protestants do  not understand.  The good Father did the right thing, and what I would expect one of our pastors to do under the same circumstances.
    The parishoner was not kicked  out of church, she just was not allowed the sacrament.  If a minister is in doubt, they need to deny.  To not do so could condemn the congregant.  We believe that if you take communion and are not prepared, it hurts you, not helps you. 

  • Pingback: Mere Links 03.15.12 - Mere Comments

  • frjohn

    Fr. Michael did the right thing. I do not understand why the local bishop did not support him. Ms. Johnson should know the position of the Roman Catholic Church on lesbianism. After she was refused Communion, she committed a major sin by going to another person to receive the Sacrament. If she were a humble and worthy person she would not have made a public issue over it. No one has the right to demand Communion. If she had a problem with Fr. Michael’s decision she should have gone through proper channels and contacted the bishop’s office. Instead, she showed the sin of pride by going to the press. Part of religious freedom is the right of a religious group to practice its own faith without being harassed by those who reject that faith. This is only part of a larger pattern of persecution of believers. We also see this in the decision of the Obama administration to force Churches to pay for birth control and abortion causing medicines. We also see this in the ridicule that the popular media has for people of faith.

    Fr. John W. Morris

  • Pingback: Father Guarnizo Speaks | Musings of a Country Preacher

  • Lionel Andrades

    Thursday, March 15, 2012
    Eucharist is not to be given to the Quaker, Lutheran, and Buddhist since they are outside the Church If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion. If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either. If a Catholic, divorced and remarried (without an annulment) would make that known in my sacristy, they too according to Catholic doctrine, would be impeded from receiving communion. This has nothing to do with canon 915. Ms. Johnson’s circumstances are precisely one of those relations which impede her access to communion according to Catholic teaching. Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church.- Fr. Marcel Guarnizo, Archdiocese of Washington D.C  The Eucharist is not to be given to the Quaker, Lutheran or Buddhist. Since outside the Church there is no salvation. They are outside the Church. They are not saved.
    Fr. Marcel Guarnizo could have been endorsing the rigorist interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. The same interpretation of Fr. Leonard Feeney, the Church Fathers, popes, Councils, Catechisms, Vatican Council I and II and Michael Voris at Real Catholic TV.com.
    Ad Gentes 7 Vatican Council II says all need to enter the Cburch for salvation. All includes the Quaker,Lutheran and Buddhist. (1).
      Lumen Gentium 14 says faith and baptism are necessary for salvation. The Buddhist does not have faith or baptism. The Lutheran does not have Catholic Faith.(2)Dominus Iesus says though Christ died for all, for salvation all need to enter the Church with faith and baptism. Non Catholics do not have faith and baptism. They need to respond and enter the Church to saved.(3)The dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus, the infallible teaching mentioned by Pope Pius XII in the Letter of the Holy Office says all need to convert into the Church to avoid Hell. (4)The Catechism of the Catholic Church repeats the teaching of Vatican Council II and other magisterial texts. All need to enter the Church with Catholic Faith and the baptism of water, one needs to enter the Church as through a door.(5)  Note: There are no known cases on earth of a non Catholic saved in invincible ignorance, the baptism of desie, a good conscience, the seeds of the Word etc. We can only accept in principle that these are possibilities known only to God. So they do not contradict any of the magisterial texts mentioned above.-Lionel Andrades  1.
    Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church’s preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism and into the Church which is His body. For Christ Himself “by stressing in express language the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into which men enter by baptism, as by a door.-Ad Gentes 7

    2.
    This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church.-Lumen Gentium 14

    3.
    Above all else, it must be firmly believed that “the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door”.77 This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. 1 Tim 2:4); “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for this salvation”.-Dominus Iesus 20

    Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.

    However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Savior gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church.-Letter of the Holy Office 1949
    http://catholicism.org/category/outside-the-church-there-is-no-salvation

    5.
    “Outside the Church there is no salvation”

    846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

    Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.-Catechism of the Catholic Church 846 (See also 845)
    Note: All salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body refers to those who are saved 1) with the baptism of desire, invincible ignorance etc and those who are saved 2) with Catholic Faith and the baptism of water. N.1 is not in conflict with N.2. They are not explicit exceptions.
      Thursday, March 15, 2012Fr. Marcel Guarnizo Defends Himself :If a Quaker, Lutheran or Buddhist, desiring communion introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2012/03/fr-marcel-guarnizo-defends-himself-if.htmlTHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE A VISIBLE MEMBER OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THE OFFICIAL TEACHING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND NOT JUST THE VIEW OF FR.LEONARD FEENEY http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2012/03/that-everyone-needs-to-be-visible.htmlFR.LEONARD FEENEY HELD THE SAME DOCTRINE AS THE CHURCH FATHERS, POPES, COUNCILS,CATECHISMS, VATICAN COUNCILS I AND II AND MICHAEL VORIS AT REAL CATHOLIC TV.COM http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2012/03/frleonar-feeney-held-same-doctrine-as.html

  • SK

    I applaud Father Guarnizo for not backing down in this matter. He defended himself rationally, calmly, and in a Christian manner. There are, of course, at least two sides to every story; but his seems to be the most believable  thus far. If it is true that the Bishop was prepared to remove him before he even heard Father’s testimony, it would not be too surprising, unfortunately. In past years the hierarchy tended to act in a way that blindly sheltered the clergy and sacrificed the good of the laity, but now there is a new trend where the laity is blindly sheltered and the clergy are getting thrown under the bus (Archdiocese of Philadelphia, for example). What should be the guiding principle now, and always, is truth. How could Father Guarnizo be expected to permit a grave sacrilege to be committed? The situation was quite clear. And this all begs the question: Why did Ms. Johnson even want to receive Holy Communion? Fortunately, God foresees such sin and scandal from all eternity, and none of it is an obstacle to His Providence.

  • Jeff

    God bless you, Father.  

  • Doc Samson

    The bottom line is that if you are choosing a lifestyle that is not compatible with your religion, find another religion.  To act offended and distraught when your choices exclude you from certain activities shows an incredible lack of emotional and intellectual maturity, i.e. most leftists. 

  • JoseProvi

    If all is as Fr. Guarnizo has written then I back him 100%. The Eucharist is not a “right” we gain by baptism. Our souls must be properly disposed to receive Him. If Ms. Johnson used the word “lover” as Fr. Guarnizo claims then he did the right thing. It would be totally different has Ms. Johnson only introduced the other lady as a friend or perhaps even partner, a word that can mean many things. By using “lover” she pretty much “came out” to Fr. Guarnizo. What is a priest to do?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ONXM6ALWVQNTD2R4UKTPIMIIKM BR

    What an eloquent and good man…and the type of man normally thrown under the bus by the Church.

    If you wish to have same sex relation and take communion…maybe you should consider joining a different church instead of having the church bend to your perversions.

  • Amandla

    Father, thank you for your vocation.  May Our Lord Bless, Keep and Protect you.

  • Tessie

    God Bless You, Father.  May your fortitude be emulated by all Catholics who faithfully believe every word in God’s teachings set forth by His Church. 
    The Church’s established views on its teachings, including homosexuality hold forth to this day, not to be construed nor modifed to satisfy one’s needs.

  • Kostas

    It sounds a bit defiant, almost like a renegade priest, that he is reminding all that he is not subject to the Cardinal Archbishop of Washington where the underlying incident occurred.  Well, where’s his own Archbishop of Moscow in all this fray? Is this guy a totally loose cannon now? Someone must be in charge of this fellow.  Regardless of his good qualities,  it looks horrible to suggest that this is all a lying contest among ordained men now. 

    I hate to see clergy resolving differences with their superiors through the media. Isn’t there an implication in these statements that someone is lying, either the Cardinal, the Bishop, the Pastor, or Father G?  Poor Bishop Knestout. He is made the bad guy in this scenario. Are  we to believe that  he hatched a conspiracy, and got everyone to  pounce on Fr G? This does not look good.  I would have preferred a statement from Fr G that he is prayerful that the official inquiry will resolve the matter soon, and thank everyone for their prayers and support, and I guess the obligatory well wishes to the Johnson family. Period. Instead we have ” holy insolence”.

    The “fact” that the other lady present blocked the door has no foundational explanation by Fr G. How did this  occur?  He gives no  suggestion that there was any tension in his  very short introduction  with her prior to the mass.  I think his statement burns all bridges to work in  the Archdiocese of Washington. I am a bit confused how a priest attached to the Archdiocese of Moscow ends up in Washington anyway. I thought   they had a dire shortage of clergy  in Russia.

    • James Stagg

      This would appear to be a most uncharitable response to the priest’s letter.  Had the Aux Bishop not vented his displeasure publicly, then this response may not have been needed.  You obviously have not read the other witness reports of what happened, and which back up the priest.  Instead, we get a knee-jerk reaction from a  functionary in the diocese to an obviously insensitive woman, who can’t even respect the funeral of her own mother, but needs to “make her mark”.  

      Well, we know where the Aux Bishop and Cardinal stand, anyway, don’t we? 

      • Kostas

         Miss Johnson is quoted in the press in Washington DC today as saying that she tried  to reach Fr Guarnizo after the funeral, and that he refused to respond to her e-mails. Another mistake of his. This preceded her being contacted by the media.
             I do not like him attacking a perfectly decent team of leaders in this Archdiocese who were on the matter. Cardinal Wuerl certainly has the fullest confidence of the Holy Father, having just been appointed to the position a little over a year ago. Bishop Knestout is known for his temperance and good people skills. Fr LaHood, a strong conservative pastor of the parish where Fr Guarnizo was for only one year, likewise is impugned in the statement  since Fr Guarnizo denies that the removal was related to the incidents following the funeral.  Likewise, all the others involved in the “conspiracy” against Fr Guarnizo  are modest, temperate people- the undertaker from DeVol’s and the parish staff.  There was no meeting called at the chancery to plant stories in their mouths and get them to sign.  I will add that Fr Guarnizo should have excused himself in just a few words after he left the altar during the eulogy, and then also indicated why he was not going to the cemetery, if his excuses are fully true as he states in his media statement. Following his denial of communion, which esteemed canon lawyers now say was unpastoral and improper under canon law, what appeared to be walking off the alter when the target of his communion denial was speaking, and then not announcing to the assembly in church why he was not attending the cemetery, certainly showed a strong lack of pastoral experience and a deficiency of courtesy.  Some warmth from him to the mourners may have prevented the entire story from ever reaching the public. 
             I am still very much wondering what he has actually done and where he has lived , year by year, since his ordination, what -12 t0 15 years ago?  Why is he here, in other words, if he is allegedly under some bishop in Russia, who probably has his hands full with nobody there to help him? I give him credit for the good that he has done,  but when faced with a problem, I do not see that he has placed the good of the Universal Church first by going to the media as a renegade priest, and then by the content of what he said. In his parish position, it appears that he should have brushed up on canon law prior to engaging in this work.

  • DELETEACCOUNT

    Either Cardinal Weurl believes that our God, Jesus Christ, is in the Holy Eucharist or not.
    (The same is true of Cardinal Dolan regarding Gov Cuomo.)

    The Cardinals must start taking into consideration the MORTAL Sins of SCANDAL and/or  SACRILEGE – which seems convenient for them to forget.
    Their lack of action breeds RELATIVISM, SCHISM, and HERESY.
    Many Souls are lost due to their lack of proper teaching which includes excommunication when necessary, and due to their example of ‘appearing’ not to care.

    I have read the Bible, the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”, Canon Law, and GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal).

    When it comes to the Bible and the CCC, these Cardinals do not measure up.

    Lastly, having the letter prepared prior to talking to the Priest, proves that Cardinal Weurl and his Bishop already had their minds made up.

  • DELETEACCOUNT

    CCC: ” 2120   SACRILEGE consists in profaning or treating unworthily the
    sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places
    consecrated to God.  
    Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against
    the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made
    substantially present for us.”

    CCC:  ” 2286  SCANDAL can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
    Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice,  or to “social conditions that intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.  This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.
    CCC:  ”  1463  Certain particularly grave sins incur
    EXCOMMUNICATION,  the most severe ecclesiastical penalty,  which impedes the
    reception of the sacraments and the exercise of certain ecclesiastical acts, and
    for which absolution consequently cannot be granted, according to canon law,
    except by the Pope, the bishop of the place or priests authorized by them.
    In
    danger of death any priest, even if deprived of faculties for hearing
    confessions, can absolve from every sin and excommunication. ”

    CCC: “2284  SCANDAL is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.  
    The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter.  He damages virtue
    and integrity;  he may even draw his brother into spiritual death.   Scandal is a
    grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave
    offense.”

    CCC:  ” 2285 SCANDAL takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of
    those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized.   It prompted our
    Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe
    in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened
    round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
    Scandal is grave when
    given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others.
    Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to
    wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    Father Guarnizo treated the woman with kindness; she treated him with contempt.  He wanted not to embarrass her, but to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege, and her from mortal sin.  She wanted to embarrass him, and to compel him to be complicit in her sin.  He did not seek to make himself notorioius for what she did; she sought the notoriety.  He wanted to serve the truth; she implicitly lied when she approached the Eucharistic minister to receive communion.  He wanted to keep the funeral from being politicized; she used the funeral as an opportunity to do just that.  He has expressed his sorrow for her loss; she has shown callous indifference to his feelings in this matter.  He has had nothing unkind to say about her; she has had nothing but unkind things to say about him.  He has refrained from publicly interpreting her actions in an evil light; she has done nothing but place the worst construction upon his actions — as witness his having to tell us about the migraine he was suffering.  Note to bishops: if you’re not going to be men, why should we insist upon your being male?

    • Caseyanderson2112

      I would rejoice to see the Church hierarchy backing this faithful priest and speaking truth about the situation deliberately created by the lesbian who wanted to make a sociopolitical statement at her mother’s funeral. What is it going to take to convince the members of the USCCB that SOULS are at stake here? Not just the woman’s soul but the souls of everyone in attendance who knew what was happening, etc.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      Tony Esolen makes it clear why this is an era of the laity (the orthodox laity) and it is the laity who will not only lead the charge for the new evangelization but will also lead the effort to re-catechize the faithful in the faith.  It is lay faithful like Dr. Esolen who will encourage the shepherds of the Church to shepherd the faithful with courage and faith in Christ.  

      Note to bishops: Be men!

  • Caseyanderson2112

    Bless you Father for doing what was RIGHT. I wish more priests had the fortitude and courage to follow in your footsteps and uphold the Faith everywhere and every day.

    Sadly I won’t be the least bit surprised to hear that a bishop values the secular opinion over the Catholic faith, if that turns out to be the case.

    This woman is the typical pseudo-Catholic trying to subvert the Church and the Faith to suit her particular chosen sins. I wish I could pray for her but right now I’m too angry to mean it.

  • Maryann

     I have the deepest respect for Father Guaenizo.He is a good and courageous Priest who truly believes in the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. On the other hand the person who should be disciplined is the Vicar General who publicly admonished a Priest for doing what is right in regards to the distribution of the Sacred Species. Am I too believe the Church should distribute God himself under the guise of not knowing a person’s state of soul AFTER they openly profess to be in an illicit relationship? Is the Vicar General telling us a relationship deemed sinful by the Church should be ignored and the person rewarded with union with God himself. Let us not forget she also admitted to being a Buddhist. Have we gone mad? Have we reduced the Blessed Sacrament to nothing less then a piece of bread??? Lord help us! I beg to question Cardinal Weurl and his administrator on their course of action when Code Pink decides to present themselves for reception of the Eucharist. If you wonder why people have lost respect for the clergy, you would be correct to say many do not stand for the tenets of our faith with courage and conviction. Pray for our Church, Bishops and Priests, they are in dire need of rediscovering Jesus and his teachings which we receive from His bride the Church.
    Father Guaenizo Please remember the following quote. You will be in my prayers:Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: “Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven.” ~ St. Rose of Lima

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=146101145 David Sewing

    As an ordained minister of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, I commend father for his faithfulness in pastoral practice.  Every thing he seemed to have done, was done in love for the individual as a redeemed child of God.  The Church stands or falls on its faithfulness to the Word of God.  Sadly, I believe that these types of disregards of the truth of Scripture will continue and increase.  All I can say is Come Lord Jesus

  • Dmikem

    God Bless this faithful priest.

  • Father C

    wow …. as a priest I’ve always found it odd that people want you to be perfect and then when you give them the Gospel they get mad and kick you in the head …. priests are guilty until proven otherwise for anything that happens today … that is disgusting …. strange times … hang in there Father – I’ll remember you during the offering of Holy Mass

    • Mary

      And…….God Bless You Father for saying Yes to the call of your vocation. My son is discerning a call to the priesthood. As a Mother witnessing the attacks on good and holy priests I cringe at the possibilities of his trials in preaching the truth of our faith. Take heed Father continue to preach the truth . You will never know how many parishioners you are affecting by your fidelity to the Church’s teachings. I came back to the Church many years ago because of a Priest who had the courage to instruct and speak of the doctrines and traditions which many Priests had dismissed as outdated. He will never know how much to this day I pray and thank God for him.
      The times are difficult but we must remember often the words Our Lady said to St.Bernadette
      ” I cannot promise you happiness in this world,only the next” Our Lady to St Bernadette

      Pray for us Father

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    I have heard Raymond Arroyo and Fr. Sirico discuss this matter on EWTN.  They referenced the Canons that apply to the reception of Holy Eucharist.  While not being a Canon lawyer, I would say that although the Buddhist woman actively living a lesbian lifestyle is not a “public” person per se, the way she went about this suggests to me that hers WAS a political act.  She went to the priest beforehand and intentionally turned the Mass into a political event (as noted by the aftermath).  This woman made herself into a poltical figure.  Just because she is not an elected official does not make her act any less poltical. This woman intentionally (and sadly) turned her mother’s funeral into a political event.  It is NOT a case of a priest who was “insensitive” and “unpastoral.”  That’s nonsense.

    The bishops ought to get this clear in their minds: the pagans will be using the Mass time and time again to stage their political theatre and it will be over the distribution of the Eucharist.  If you don’t see what their intent is, you better get it soon because you will have priests more and more just acquiescing to all sorts of political antics at Mass.  The faithful will become disheartened and take even less seriously the Church’s admonition about receiving Communion unworthily.

    One last observation: How is what this priest did any different from the the Rainbow Coaltiion of active homosexuals showing up at the  Minneapolis cathedral and being denied Communion by the Archbishop?  They are presenting themselves for Communion and only wearing a rainbow sash.  This woman in DC actually went to the priest beforehand and annouced her defiant challenge, daring the priest to take action.

    Bishops, Canon Law is great. Common sense is too!

    • Kostas

       Miss Johnson is no more a Buddhist than Fr. Thomas Merton was. He was deeply into eastern faiths as a matter of fact. Buddhism is studied by many as a philosophy and a set of aesthetics. Johnson is an artist. Sounds logical.

  • Pingback: Stones Cry Out - If they keep silent… » Only in California (v. 8) UPDATED

  • RBurkHill

    Father
    Marcel Guarnizo and the concerned laity of St. John Neumann and elsewhere have
    an able advocate in their quest for their Catholic Church, as they join us in
    the battle against the “threat not just to Christian faith, but also to
    humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation,
    our relationship to God.” A quote from the following, which I encourage
    them to read NOW.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/january/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120119_bishops-usa_en.html#topADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS OF THE
    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ON THEIR “AD LIMINA” VISIT, Consistory Hall, Thursday, 19 January 2012

    ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS OF THE
    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ON THEIR “AD LIMINA” VISIT, Consistory Hall, Thursday, 19 January 2012

  • DDPGH

    Canon Lawyer Ed Peter’s  Canonical observations on Fr. Guarnizo’s statement of March 14
                    
    Fr. Marcel Guarnizo’s statement evidences misunderstandings of several aspects of Catholic law on the administration of holy Communion and confirms my sense that Guarnizo erred in withholding holy Communion in this case. Regarding those errors, I believe that he, and those inclined to support or even imitate him, need correction.Preliminary pointsI offer here canonical commentary, and that, only for those who are interested in the operation of canon law in the Church and are aware of (or willing to take direction on) how this venerable legal system serves the Christian community. Those suffering, regardless of their doctrinal views, from various kinds of ecclesiastical antinomianism are invited to address their more basic concerns about the role of law in the Church in another context.I comment here only on Guarnizo’s decision to withhold holy Communion from Barbara Johnson on Feb 25, except briefly to correct one parenthetical remark by Guarnizo: he apparently thinks that Cdl. Wuerl does not have the authority to “suspend” him. I have stated all along that Guarnizo is not suspended, but there is no question that Wuerl could suspend Guarnizo, or apply any other appropriate penalty, if things come to that (cc. 1408, 1412).This is a blog post (if a longish one), so I can’t include as much scholarly apparatus (e.g., footnotes, in-text citations) as befits a study of this matter. Likewise, I must leave some useful but secondary points of law unstated here; none of those points, however, in my opinion, would rehabilitate Guarnizo’s decision in this case.Summary of pertinent factsGuarnizo admits that he only met Johnson a few minutes before her mother’s funeral Mass, admits that he had no knowledge whatsoever about the Johnson family, and offers no indication that he knew anything about the congregation gathered for Mass that day.Guarnizo says that, a few minutes before Mass started, Johnson appeared in the sacristy and introduced another woman as her “lover”; further conversation was prevented by the “lover” standing in a doorway. There was apparently no mention of Johnson’s possible lesbian activism, her cohabitation status (if any), her degree of ‘alienation’ from the Church, or her possible involvement in Buddhism.There is no reason to doubt but that Johnson was baptized Catholic and there is no evidence that she ever proffered an “act of formal defection” (when such were possible) or has been found guilty of a canonical crime such as apostasy (c. 751, 1364).Primary applicable canonsNotwithstanding some unguarded talk about no one having the right to receive holy Communion, canon law provides a complex of norms that upholds the faithful’s fundamental rights—rights ultimately conferred by Christ through His Church—to receive the sacraments. Cappello, DE SACRAMENTIS (1945) I: 361.Canon 213 asserts the right of the faithful “to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments”; Canon 843 § 1 forbids ministers from withholding sacraments from those “who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them;” and Canon 912 states that “any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to holy communion.” Moreover, Canon 18 requires that any law restricting the exercise of rights (as Canon 915 certainly does) be strictly interpreted, that is, that the restrictions in Canon 915 be construed as narrowly as reasonably possible. Considered individually or as a group, these canons are strongly pro-reception.The chief norm requiring the faithful to prepare well for the worthy reception of holy Communion is Canon 916. Of its nature, however, Canon 916, dealing essentially with internal forum matters, does not (any more than do several other canons in the Code) lend itself to exterior enforcement by ecclesiastical authority. Canon 916 binds gravely in conscience and an accounting to God of one’s conduct under that canon (or at any rate, under the values it protects) will be owed by each Catholic at Judgment. But Canon 916 itself is not regarded as an object of external-forum enforcement by ministers of holy Communion.In contrast, Canon 915 binds ministers, not recipients. Prescinding from rarely encountered excommunication and interdict situations, Canon 915 lays out several distinct conditions that must be simultaneously satisfied before a minister of Holy Communion may (and indeed, should) withhold the Eucharist from a member of the faithful. To justify withholding the Eucharist under Canon 915 according to its plain terms, the conduct in which a communicant perseveres must be obstinate, manifest, grave, and sinful. These conditions must be understood and assessed according to the Church’s canonical tradition, else, one is no longer talking about the law of the Catholic Church.Given the very strong canonical presumptions accorded the faithful in regard to reception of the sacraments, and given the strict interpretative hermeneutic set out in Canon 18, the burden is, without question, on the minister of holy Communion to verify that all of the conditions listed in canon 915 are satisfied before he withholds holy Communion from a member of the faithful who approaches for it publicly.* Put another way, the burden is not on Guarnizo’s critics to prove that he should not have acted as he did in this case, rather, the burden is on Guarnizo to prove that he acted in accord with Church discipline.Summary argument on Canon 915 in light of Guarnizo’s admissionsGuarnizo did not know, and could not have verified, whether Johnson’s sin (speaking objectively), which could be grave (a conclusion I think a Catholic could reach based on the words used here) was also manifest, as well as obstinate and perseverating. Yet such factors, according to a host of respected commentators writing over many decades, must be verified before withholding holy Communion from a member of the faithful. Consider:“If the priest … doubts the publicity or notoriety of the crime, it would certainly be safer to give the Holy Eucharist to one who publically asks for it.” Dom Augustine, COMMENTARY (1920) IV: 230.“Occulto peccatori qui publice accedit ad sacram Mensam administranda vero est sacra communio … si fideles, quippe cum eis indignitas non sit nota, timore afficiantur, ne et ipsi infamentur, si sacerdos ob … ignoratiam, errorem, etc, eos praetereat.” Jone, COMMENTARIUM (1954) II: 100.“If there is doubt about the notoriety of the sin, the communicant is to be favored in public.” Abbo-Hannan, SACRED CANONS (1960) I: 854.“Before a minister can lawfully refuse the Eucharist, he must be certain that the person obstinately persists in a sinful situation or in sinful behavior that is manifest (i.e. public) and objectively grave.” Kelly, in GB& I COMM (1995) 503.“The minister of holy communion should not publicly deny communion to a person who, being afflicted by grave sin and/or subject to a non-declared penalty latae sententiae [e.g., for apostasy] is not notoriously under those situations.” Gramunt, in EXEGETICAL COMM (2004) III/1: 615-616.I know of no commentator who disputes these views. In terms of Canon 915, and given Guarnizo’s factual admissions above, I conclude that Guarnizo erred in withholding Communion.Interestingly, some language in Guarnizo’s statement suggests that not even he thinks that Canon 915 provides cover for his decision, and we now turn to other factors that he thinks might justify his withholding Communion from a member of the faithful who asks for it publicly. We must determine whether these grounds (a) would support him in principle and, if so, (b) whether they would do so in fact.Guarnizo’s appeal to other groundsG: If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion. In principle, Canon 844 § 1 directs Catholic ministers not to administer most sacraments to non-Catholics (though for somewhat different reasons and with somewhat different implications depending on baptismal status of the petitioner). Baptized Catholics, however, are presumed to be Catholics until death (absent satisfaction of some very rarified conditions), and therefore, notwithstanding their possible self-description as non-Catholic, they continue to enjoy the benefits of the strong pro-reception canons outlined above. Canon 844 does not support withholding the sacraments from baptized Catholics, and indeed, it adds to the norms supporting reception of same. Guarnizo’s implicit appeal to Canon 844 fails as a matter of law.Moreover, there is no evidence that Johnson identified herself as Buddhist before approaching for holy Communion and, even if she had so claimed, there is no way that Guarnizo could have confirmed her new status (essentially, as an apostate) based on a few words before Mass. Guarnizo’s implicit appeal to Canon 844 fails as a matter of fact.G: If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either. In principle, intoxication would be a good example of not being properly “disposed” for the reception of the sacrament under Canon 843 § 1. Guarnizo does not, however, claim that Johnson was intoxicated or high on drugs, so, his implicit appeal to Canon 843 fails on the facts.That said, what Guarnizo might have meant that his awareness that Johnson had a female “lover” sufficed for him to conclude that she was not properly “disposed” to receive holy Communion. If so, there are several problems with that claim.Most traditional canonical and sacramental authors who discuss “disposition” for sacraments divide their analysis of “disposition” into ‘objective’ factors (such as being obviously drunk) and ‘subjective’ factors (such as being in the state of grace, or motivated by right intention, etc). Cappello, DE SACRAMENTIS (1945) I: 401-407, 444-450; Halligan, ADMINISTRATION (1963) 111-113.Guarnizo alleges none of traditional ‘objective’ factors by which commentators could conclude for indisposition (e.g., eating food in the Communion line, or cursing at the minister, gravely immodest dress, having communicated twice that day, and so on), so, he can only be impugning Johnson’s ‘subjective’ state. That kind of discernment, however, is impossible for human ministers to make, and is another reason why Canon 916 (which operates in the realm of conscience) is distinct from Canon 915 (which operates only in the realm verified conduct).G: If a Catholic, divorced and remarried (without an annulment) would make that known in my sacristy, they too according to Catholic doctrine, would be impeded from receiving communion. This has nothing to do with Canon 915. For reasons I can develop elsewhere, I think that withholding holy Communion from those divorced and remarried outside the Church is an application of Canon 915 (see, e.g., Kelly, in GB&I COMM [1995] 503), but I need not prove that point to show that withholding the Eucharist from divorced-and-remarrieds, that is, those who status is de iure public, is appropriate under, among other things, the 1994 CDF Letter on Communion for Divorced and Remarried Catholics, n. 6. Of course, as Johnson is apparently not divorced and remarried outside the Church, and because Guarnizo did not suspect her of being so, his implicit appeal to the CDF letter and/or c. 915, fails in law and in fact.In brief, I find none of the additional arguments which Guarnizo offers for his conduct sufficing to justify it.Some other brief points made by GuarnizoG: Ms. Johnson’s circumstances are precisely one of those relations which impede her access to communion according to Catholic teaching. The syntax of this sentence is not clear, but it amounts to a gratuitous assertion, resting on a continuing confusion between a recipient’s duties under Canon 916, and the minister’s duties under Canon 915. To grasp the difference between these two norms is grasp the essence of the thing.G: Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer [sic] of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church.First, canon law does not require parish membership for admission to holy Communion in a parish; second, it is very inappropriate to refer to any baptized Catholic as a “guest” in a parish church (cc. 1214, 1221); and third, the Church is the arbiter of how sacraments are to be dispensed (c. 840), and she does so through her canon and liturgical law. Ministers of the sacraments are bound to observe those laws faithfully (cc. 838, 841, 846).G: In all of the above circumstances, I would have been placed in a similar uncomfortable position. The minister’s comfort level is irrelevant to his duty under the law. I believe some priests perform private acts of reparation for sacrilegious Communions which they fear might have been committed with their material cooperation.**G: Under these circumstances, I quietly withheld communion, so quietly that even the Eucharistic Minister standing four feet from me was not aware I had done so. The lack of immediate commotion associated with Guarnizo’s action is irrelevant to whether he withheld holy Communion from a would-be recipient, and if so, whether he acted rightly. In any case, the commotion that his action provoked in its wake has been enormous.G: But I am going to defend my conduct in these instances, because what happened I believe contains a warning to the church. I, too, believe that this case is warning to the Church, a warning to make sure that ministers of the Eucharist understand and observe the Church’s sacramental law. The Church can best defend herself from a hateful world seeking her harm when she follows her own rules; but when she, or hers, fail to do so, the problems become legion.Final remarkI have long believed that the express terms of Canon 915 support its much wider application against certain prominent scandal-giving Catholics, and I have labored to advance the application of Canon 915 ad bonum Ecclesiae et salutem animarum. Serious misapplications of the values underlying Canon 915, however, undertaken by ill-informed ministers and touted by grossly ill-formed partisans, only set back the cause of seeing Canon 915 applied correctly today.

    • Lionel Andrades

      Saturday, March 17, 2012
      http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.it/2012/03/canonist-rejects-veritatis-splendor.htmlCANONIST REJECTS VERITATIS SPLENDOR Canonist Peters thinks Fr.Guarnizo was wrong in witholding the Eucharist to the Barbara Johnson.http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/1733/Edward  Peters errs in assuming that the outward action does not indicate the internal thoughts or motivation. This is the moral theology of Fr.Bernard Haring and Fr.Charles Curran.Homosexuality and lesbianism will always be a mortal sin.It is grave matter and the woman has admitted it in this case.She persists in receiving the Eucharist and still persists in the sin. http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.it/2012/03/canonist-rejects-veritatis-splendor.html

      • DDPGH

        The CCL clearly spells out requirements that fully need be met before the Eucharist is denied.   It is the grave responsibility of the clergy to know what the Church has promulgated before acting in the Lord’s name.

        Obedience to the Magisterium,  and to consequent authority, as to the Lord,  is the highest good.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      Perhaps Cardinal Burke will aid the Church in revising these Canons to better meet the exigencies of today’s politicized Church.  It might also prevent future maligning of good priests who want only to protect the sanctity of the Sacrament.

      • DDPGH

        The Church is no more or less politicized today than she has been from day one.  The world likewise experiences the same sin and death as it has since Adam and Eve’s disobedience.   Church canons protect the rights of Catholics as Catholics.   Therefore it is crucial, when representing the Lord Jesus and His Church, to be cautious, patient, well-informed, and well-versed in what the Church promulgates in order to prevent hasty and possibly unjust responses.  It is also crucial to trust,  more than our own zeal and  good intentions,  God Who is with us always in His Church. 

        • Deacon Ed Peitler

          You say, “The Church is no more or less politicized today than she has been from day one.” Fact or opinion?

          It is not a matter of how much but the means by which power is wielded by those out to do harm to the Church that matters.  In that regard, the Church changes its tactics in how best to defend her. 

          On another matter, when the Archbishop of Minneapolis/St Paul refuses communion to those approaching the altar wearing Rainbow sashes, is that in accord with the Canons you cite?  They are not known to him as individuals but they have nonetheless identified themselves non-verbally with a political group who intent is antithetical to Church teachings. 

          • DDPGH

            Deacon Peitler, canon law is not a ‘tactic.’   It is the Church’s Spirit-inspired, as promised by the Lord, promulgation purposed to govern and ensure justice.  While canons may be clarified and honed, a canon’s essence may not be abrogated in response to changing tides of influence, power-wielding, or whimsy at large in the Church or the world.   Canon 915 mandates  cautionary requirements necessary to fulfill before denying a Catholic the Eucharist.  These requirements will be relevant no matter the antics of the Lord’s enemies within and without the Church.

            It is not my office to evaluate the canonical legitimacy of Archbishops Flynn and Nienstedt’s decision to withhold the Eucharist from rainbow- sash-garbed communicants.

    • Katie

       

       

       

      A
      Canonical Defense of Father Marcel Guarnizo

       

      As a priest and canon
      lawyer, I’d like in canonical terms, to revisit the controversial events
      surrounding the denial of Holy Communion to Barbara Johnson by Father Marcel
      Guarnizo. First of all, while I agree with many of the points by the very
      well-respected canonist Dr. Ed Peters, I believe that even with the rather
      limited information currently available, Father Guarnizo very possibly and
      correctly satisfied the conditions of canon 915 in denying Holy Communion to
      Barbara Johnson. Secondly, I would like to comment on Father Guarnizo’s unjust
      “administrative leave” in light of the Code of Canon Law.

       

      Part 1 – Canon 915 and
      Father Guarnizo

       

      The first rule of
      interpretation in canon law is to read the canon.  Canon 915 reads

       

      “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or
      interdict has been imposed, and others who obstinately persist in manifest
      grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

       

      As Ed Peters clearly
      points out, canon 915 lays an obligation on the minister distributing Holy
      Communion to deny Holy Communion to certain parties. Who are these parties? The
      first two parties are those who have been excommunicated or interdicted by
      imposition or declaration. The third party to be denied Holy Communion are
      those who fulfill all of the following three conditions, i.e., those who

       

      1. Obstinately
      persist

      2. in manifest

      3. grave sin.

       

      How is this canon to be interpreted?
      Ed Peters rightly mentions a general norm:

       

      Can. 18 – “Laws which establish a penalty, restrict the
      free exercise of rights, or contain an exception from the law are subject to
      strict interpretation.”

       

      as well as canon 912:

       

      Can. 912 – “Any baptized person not prohibited by law can
      and must be admitted to Holy Communion.”

       

      On the other hand,
      Father William Byrne, Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns, in
      the Archdiocese of Washington’s press release,
      states,

       

      “We
      should receive Jesus with the intention of becoming more like Him. No one is
      entitled to the Eucharist. It is a free gift and should be received with
      humility and reverence.”

       

      Ed Peters is again correct to say
      that the burden lies upon Father Guarnizo to prove he satisfied the
      requirements of canon 915. On the other hand, canon 915 lays a grave obligation
      on the minister of Holy Communion to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege and
      to prevent scandal. It goes without saying that the minister who violates canon
      915 should be justly punished.

       

      Ed Peters summarily explains why
      Father Guarnizo does not fufill the conditions of canon 915:

       

      “Guarnizo
      did not know, and could not have verified, whether Johnson’s sin (speaking
      objectively), which could be grave (a conclusion I think a Catholic could reach
      based on the words used here) was also manifest, as well as obstinate and
      perseverating (sic). ”

       

      This statement raises a question.
      Given the extremely limited information we currently have from a variety of
      sources, how exactly does Ed Peters judge that Father
      “Guarnizo did not know, and could not have verified” Barbara Johnson
      was not a manifest, grave sinner? It is safe to assume that Ed Peters was not
      present at the chapel for the funeral, nor was he in the sacristy, nor does he
      have knowledge of who or how many persons witnessed the conversation that took
      place between Father Guarnizo and Barbara Johnson.

       

      Ed Peters goes on to quote a number
      of very reputable and traditional Catholic moralists and manualists who express
      in various terms the meaning of canon 915. Let’s look carefully at canon 915.
      Here’s the canon again.

       

      Canon 915 – “Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication
      or interdict has been imposed, and others who obstinately persist in manifest
      grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

       

      What is the purpose of
      canon 915? Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the
      highest tribunal in the Church) answers this question in a paper regarding the
      liciety of admitting pro-abortion politicians to Holy Communion in light of
      canon 915. (For those who haven’t read the paper, the quick answer is
      “no”.) Cardinal Burke states that Canon 915 exists primarily to
      prevent sacrilege while at the same time preventing our Greatest Good from
      being violated. His Eminence also remarked in the Jesuit periodical America Magazine
      that,

       

      “Canon
      915 deals with the state of someone who persists in an open, serious moral
      violation and so has gravely sinned. This means you can’t receive Communion,
      but it is not saying you are excommunicated. It’s just saying you have broken,
      in a very serious way, your communion with God and with the Church and
      therefore are not able to receive Holy Communion.”

       

      The same point is implied in St.
      Paul’s scolding of the Corinthian Christians during Mass:

       

      “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and
      drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.”

      The minister who
      applies canon 915 actually does the sinner a great service in charity by
      preventing him from committing another grave sin.

       

      The secondary purpose
      of canon 915 is the prevention of scandal. What is scandal? Cardinal Burke
      says:

       

      “The
      first and properly theological meaning of scandal is to do or omit something
      which leads others into error or sin. The second meaning is to do or omit
      something which causes wonderment (admiratio) in others.
      Denying Holy Communion publicly to the occult sinner involves scandal in the
      second sense. Giving Holy Communion to the obstinately serious and public
      sinner involves scandal in the first sense.”

       

      In his Summa Theologiae, St.
      Thomas Aquinas says that although there is a need for the minister distributing
      Holy Communion to protect the good name of the hidden sinner, there is also an
      obligation to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege by a public sinner.

       

      Since Barbara Johnson
      doesn’t fall into the first two categories of canon 915, let’s see she if she
      fulfills the following three conditions for the last category of persons, i.e.,
      those who

       

      1. Obstinately
      persist

      2. in manifest

      3. grave sin.

       

      1. Obstinately persist

       

      What does it mean to “obstinately
      persist”?

       

      The Pontifical Council for
      Legislative Texts (PCLT), the department of the Vatican whose job it is to
      interpret authentically both universal and particular laws in the Church,
      states that this phrase “obstinate persistence”
      is

       

      “the
      existence of an objective situation of sin that endures in time and which the
      will of the individual member of the faithful does not bring to an end, no
      other requirements (attitude of defiance, prior warning, etc.) being necessary
      to establish the fundamental gravity of “the situation in the
      Church.”

       

      “Obstinate
      persistence” denotes an objective (not subjective) state. Although
      commonly misunderstood, it is not necessary that warnings be issued in order to
      judge “obstinate persistence”.

       

      Before the funeral Mass, Barbara
      Johnson declared her homosexual status by introducing her lesbian lover to
      Father Guarnizo. What was the purpose of this action? We now know, from media
      reports, that Barbara has been with her partner for 20 years.

       

      We also know that Barbara Johnson
      walked out of the sacristy while her lover blocked the doorway.

       

      2. “Manifest”

       

      What does “manifest”
      mean?

       

      Among the leading canon lawyers
      currently living in North America is Professor John Huels at St. Paul’s
      University. In his 1985 commentary on
      canon 915, Professor Huels writes that

       

      “a manifest sin is one which is
      publicly known, even if only by a few.”

       

      Although tempting, it
      is not possible completely to equate the term “manifest” with the term
      “public”, since, in the 1917 Code these two adjectives are used to describe
      those who are not allowed a Catholic funeral. (1917 Code of Canon Law, c.
      1240. Alii peccatores publici et manifesti [Other public and
      manifest sinners])If “manifest” were exactly the same as“public”, why would the
      legislator have used both terms?“  Manifest” can also refer to the
      fact that certain moral actions by their very essence are always immoral and
      are objectively wrong.For example, we say that it is“manifest” or clear, i.e.,
      there is no doubt, that a certain moral action is definitely wrong.The term
      “manifest”would certainly in its definition, a politician who is actively
      attempting to pass legislation to facilitate direct abortions. Understandably
      there is overlapping in meaning but the the term “public” can mean
      “that which is provable in the external forum.”

       

      The Jesuit theologian Father Davis,
      in his classic Moral and Pastoral Theology published in 1938,
      declared that

       

      “He
      is, relatively speaking, a public sinner, if he is known to be such by those
      who observe that he asks for the Sacraments. He is said to ask for them
      publicly, if he does so, in the presence of any others, many or few, who would
      recognize him as a public sinner.”

       

      The ancient Rituale Romanum stated:

       

      “All
      the faithful are to be admitted to Holy Communion, except those who are
      prohibited for a just reason. The publicly unworthy, which are the
      excommunicated, those under interdict, and the manifestly infamous, such as
      prostitutes, those cohabiting, usurers, sorcerers, fortune-tellers, blasphemers
      and other sinners of the public kind, are, however, to be prevented, unless
      their penitence and amendment has been established and they will have repaired
      the public scandal.”

       

      Furthermore, as Cardinal Burke
      mentions in his commentary on canon 915,

       

      “Regarding
      the denial of Holy Communion, the [1720 Ruthenian] Synod made its own the
      perennial discipline of the Church:

       

      “Heretics,
      schismatics, the excommunicated, the interdicted, public criminals, the openly
      infamous, as also prostitutes, the publicly cohabiting, major usurers,
      fortune-tellers, and other evil-doing men of the same kind, however, are not to
      be admitted to the reception of this Sacrament, according to the precept of
      Christ: ‘Do not give the Holy to dogs’. ”

       

      A notorious act here means an act
      that cannot be concealed.

       

      The well-respected Father William
      Woestman adds that,

       

      “the
      public reception of Communion by a public sinner implies that the Church and
      her ministers somehow condone the public serious sin.”

       

      An author that Ed Peters is familiar
      with and recommends is the Dominican Father Halligan. Father Halligan, in Administration
      of the Sacraments, states that a crime

       

      “is
      public, if it is already divulged or is so situated that it may and must be
      concluded that it will easily become commonly known.”

       

      Who else was present in the sacristy
      on the day of Barbara Johnson’s mother’s funeral? Who else could have heard the
      conversation that took place between Father Guarnizo and Barbara Johnson?
      Usually before a liturgical ceremony such as a funeral, a number persons can be
      present in the sacristy (e.g., altar servers, schola members, members of the
      recently deceased, the parish secretary, etc.). In addition, reasonableness is
      assumed in law. Is it not reasonable that the community, largely made up of
      Barbara Johnson’s family, knew of her lesbian relationship before the funeral
      if not at least at the funeral? At family gatherings like funerals or weddings,
      people “catch up” and learn how everyone and everything has been
      going since the last funeral or wedding. People find out family news. Even
      strangers discover a little bit about who’s related to whom and so on. Is it
      not very reasonable that more than a few people present in that church building
      knew about the lesbian relationship between Barbara Johnson and her lover?
      Every human being lives in a community. What about the community of which
      Barbara Johnson is a member and amongst whom she lives? Are they supposed to
      assume that Barbara Johnson received Holy Communion just like everybody else?
      Doesn’t this create scandal in Cardinal Burke’s first sense where the faithful
      are led into error about who is worthy to receive Holy Communion?

       

      An unnamed source present at the
      funeral mentioned that most of the congregation was mysteriously not made up of
      those around the age of the recently deceased mother but were more around the
      age of Barbara Johnson. An unusually small percentage of people came up to
      receive Holy Communion. If these were friends of Barbara Johnson, what about
      the possible scandal that could have taken place if Father Gaurnizo had given
      her Holy Communion? This witness is confident that the vast majority of the
      persons present for the funeral knew about the lesbian “lifestyle” of
      Barbara Johnson.

       

      3. Grave sin.

       

      Regarding “Grave Sin”,
      the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts declares that this is

      “understood objectively, being
      that the minister of Communion would not be able to judge from subjective
      imputability.”

       

      Now that we’ve walked through a
      working description of the phrase in canon 915 asserting that those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be
      admitted to Holy Communion,” what is a concrete example of people who fall
      into this category? The answer is given to us by Blessed Pope John Paul II,
      Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
      the Catholic Catechism and again, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

       

      Blessed John Paul II
      in Familaris Consortio in 1982:

       

      “The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred
      Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have
      remarried. They are unable to be admitted hereto from the fact that their state
      and condition of life objectively contradict the union of love between Christ
      and the Church which is signified by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is a another
      special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the
      faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching
      about the indissolubility of marriage.”

       

      Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the
      Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1991:

       

      “As
      far as the internal forum solution is concerned as a means of resolving the
      question of the validity of a prior marriage, the magisterium has not
      sanctioned its use for a number of reasons, among which is the inherent
      contradiction of resolving something in the internal forum which by its nature
      also pertains to and has such important consequences for the external
      forum.”

       

      Catechism of the Catholic Church,
      numbers 1650-1651:

      “If
      the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that
      objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive
      Eucharistic Communion as long as this situation persists. ”

       

      Pontifical Commission for
      Legislative Texts in 2000:

       

      “In
      effect, the reception of the Body of Christ when one is publicly unworthy
      constitutes an objective harm to the ecclesial communion: it is a behavior that
      affects the rights of the Church and of all the faithful to live in accord with
      the exigencies of that communion. In the concrete case of the admission to Holy
      Communion of faithful who are divorced and remarried, the scandal, understood
      as an action that prompts others towards wrongdoing, affects at the same time
      both the sacrament of the Eucharist and the indissolubility of marriage. That
      scandal exists even if such behavior, unfortunately, no longer arouses
      surprise: in fact it is precisely with respect to the deformation of the
      conscience that it becomes more necessary for Pastors to act, with as much
      patience as firmness, as a protection to the sanctity of the Sacraments and a
      defense of Christian morality, and for the correct formation of the
      faithful.”

       

      The noted 1917 Code commentar Fr.
      Lincoln Bouscaren, SJ, in Canon Law Digest (vol. 1, 408-409) also relates the
      case of

       

      “a
      woman that was living in open concubinage with a relative, went to confession
      to a missionary, and was admitted by him to Holy Communion. The pastor of the
      church questioned the propriety of this course of action on the part of the
      missionary, and referred the matter to the Ordinary of the place. The latter
      forbade the admission of the woman to Holy Communion until she should have
      separated from the man with whom she was living. From this decree, the
      missionary had recourse tot he Sacred Congregation of the Council.

      Question:
      Whether the decree of the Ordinary is to be obeyed.

      Reply:
      In the affirmative.”

       

      Father William Woestman logically
      concludes that

       

      “the
      same principles apply to everyone whose habitual lifestyle is manifestly
      gravely sinful, e.g., the unmarried “living together,” homosexuals or
      lesbians in a public relationship, those actively participating in the
      performance of abortions, drug traffickers, gang members.”

       

      We can see that Ed Peters clearly
      contradicts the point reinterated by Father Woestmann:

       

      “I
      think that withholding Holy Communion from those divorced and remarried outside
      the Church is an application of Canon 915 (see, e.g., Kelly, in GB&I COMM
      [1995] 503), but I need not prove that point to show that withholding the
      Eucharist from divorced-and-remarrieds, that is, those who status is de
      iure public, is appropriate under, among other things, the 1994 CDF
      Letter on Communion for Divorced and Remarried Catholics, n. 6.  Of
      course, as Johnson is apparently not divorced and remarried outside the Church,
      and because Guarnizo did not suspect her of being so, his implicit appeal to
      the CDF letter and/or c. 915, fails in law and in fact.”

       

      Objectively, homosexuality is graver
      than adultery. I don’t understand why Dr. Peters says that it is licit to use
      canon 915 to deny Holy Communion to those who are divorced and have remarried
      but it is not licit to use canon 915 for a lesbian in a homosexual
      relationship.

       

      Up to this point, we’ve applied our
      attention to law relevant to the particular situation of Baabara Johnson. Now
      we ask, what should be done practically in a concrete situation?

       

      The Pontifical Council for
      Legislative Texts again provides the answer.

       

      “Naturally,
      pastoral prudence would strongly suggest the avoidance of instances of public
      denial of Holy Communion. Pastors must strive to explain to the concerned
      faithful the true ecclesial sense of the norm, in such a way that they would be
      able to understand it or at least respect it. In those situations, however, in
      which these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they
      were not possible, the minister of Communion must refuse to distribute it to
      those who are publicly unworthy. They are to do this with extreme charity, and
      are to look for the opportune moment to explain the reasons that required the
      refusal. They must, however, do this with firmness, conscious of the value that
      such signs of strength have for the good of the Church and of souls.”

      “The
      discernment of cases in which the faithful who find themselves in the described
      condition are to be excluded from Eucharistic Communion is the responsibility
      of the Priest who is responsible for the community.”

      We know that Father Guarnizo did not
      make the funeral arrangments for Barbara Johnson’s mother. We also know that
      after hearing confessions from 930-1020am, Father Guarnizo wanted to speak with
      Barbara before the 1030am funeral Mass but was blocked by Barbara Johnson’s
      lover. We also know that Father Guarnizo’s action to deny Holy Communion to
      Barbara Johnson was extremely discreet.

       

      Part 2 – “Administrative
      Leave” and Father Guarnizo

       

      Regarding the “administrative
      leave” and the loss of his priestly faculties in the diocese of
      Washington, DC, Father Guarnizo says

       

      “I
      would only add for the record, that the letter removing me from pastoral work
      in the Archdiocese of Washington, was already signed and sealed and on the
      table when I met with Bishop Knestout on March 9, even before he asked me the
      first question about the alleged clash.”

       

      The major question in this matter is
      where is the necessary element of due process?

       

      John Beal, a well-known canonist at
      Catholic University, argues that “administrative leave” can only take
      place after a formal judicial penal process has been initiated, and not during
      the information-collecting preliminary investigation. This assumes that the
      prelimary investagtion of canon 1720 was actually carried out. Thus, the
      Ordinary should have decreed that the acts of the investigation be handed over
      to the Promoter of Justice who then presents the libellus (petition
      of accusation) to the judge. Canons 1720, 1721 and 1722 need to be applied.

       

      Can.
      1720 “If the ordinary thinks that the matter must proceed by way of
      extrajudicial decree:
      1º he is to inform the accused of the accusation and the proofs, giving an
      opportunity for self-defense, unless the accused neglected to appear after
      being properly summoned;
      2º he is to weigh carefully all the proofs and arguments with two assessors;
      3º if the delict is certainly established and a criminal action is not
      extinguished, he is to issue a decree according to the norm of cann. 1342–1350,
      setting forth the reasons in law and in fact at least briefly.”

       

      Can.
      1721 Ҥ1. If the ordinary has decreed that a judicial penal process must
      be initiated, he is to hand over the acts of the investigation to the promoter
      of justice who is to present a libellus of accusation to the judge according to
      the norm of cann. 1502 and 1504.
      §2. The promoter of justice appointed to the higher tribunal acts as the petitioner
      before that tribunal.”

       

      Can. 1722 “To prevent scandals, to protect the freedom
      of witnesses, and to guard the course of justice, the ordinary, after having
      heard the promoter of justice and cited the accused, at any stage of the
      process can exclude the accused from the sacred ministry or from some office
      and ecclesiastical function, can impose or forbid residence in some place or
      territory, or even can prohibit public participation in the Most Holy
      Eucharist. Once the cause ceases, all these measures must be revoked; they also
      end by the law itself when the penal process ceases.”

      According to Father Guarnizo’s report,
      the legal measures demanded by canons 1721 and 1722 were simply not applied:

       

      “The
      letter removing me from pastoral work in the Archdiocese of Washington, was
      already signed and sealed and on the table when I met with Bishop Knestout on
      March 9, even before he asked me the first question about the alleged
      clash.”

       

      Where is the right of defense for
      Father Gaurnizo? Did the Ordinary initiate an administrative process or a
      judicial penal process with a decree of judicial weight? What about the
      libellus, the formal petition of accusation? Where is the promotor of justice
      to ensure that the proper juridical motions are taken at each step of the
      trial? Where is due process?

      In short, I respectfully but substantially disagree with Ed
      Peters’ view of Father Guarnizo’s alleged violation canon 915 based on the
      arguments offered above. In addition, the misfortune of the the loss of
      faculties that Father Guarnizo has suffered has seemingly come about without
      due canonical process. Furthermore, why did the diocese not mention canon 916,
      which reminds the faithful of the obligation to receive the Eucharist worthily
      in their letter of apology to Barbara Johnson? Although any information
      whatsoever about the entire situation is at a premium, it seems like the
      Diocese of Washington, DC is more willing, at least externally, to place its
      trust in somebody who (although canonically is not Buddhist as Ed Peters
      rightly points out) professes to be a Buddhist,
      has illegally attempted marriage with her lesbian
      partner, and was a speaker on March 17th at a national conference for gays and lesbians.
      Finally, is Father Guarnizo guilty until proven innocent?

       

      I’m making these points in order to
      highlight every priest’s obligation to safeguard the Holy Eucharist and to
      highlight that every priest accused of wrongdoing should receive a right of
      defense in a just trial.

      • Roy

        For another canonical view defending Father Guarnizo against Father Macdonald and Dr. Ed Peters, check out Father Anonymous’s reply!
        http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/special-report-fr-marcel-guarnizo-defends-himself-against-accusers

        Here’s a portion of the text.

        We now have an opportunity to
        revisit the term “manifest” as stated in canon 915.  Father Macdonald
        refers to a quote from Professor John Huels regarding the term “manifest” which
        stated

         

        “a manifest sin is one which is publicly known, even if only by a
        few.”

         

        I am unaware of Dr. Huels retracting
        or contradicting himself regarding his definition of “manifest.”

         

        This term “manifest” rests upon a
        stable and continuous canonical position from the 1917 Code of Canon Law. 
        “Manifest” means that which is publicly known.  What does the adjective
        “public” mean?  Thanks to Dr. Ed Peter’s monumental work in translating
        the entire 1917 Code from Latin into English, here is the canon 2197:

         

        A delict [canonical crime] is

         

        1º “public, if it is already known or is in such
        circumstances that it can be and must be prudently judged that it will easily
        become known”.

         

        Father Woywod, a 1917 Code canonist,
        in A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, on canon 2197
        states that:

         

        “The distinction between occult and public offenses is
        explained in general terms by the Code.  Canonists have given more
        specific rules by which one may judge whether an offense is to be considered
        publicly known…  It is maintained by many canonists that
        at least six persons in a small town or community must know of the offense
        before it can be called public.”

         

        Although ethics cannot be reduced to
        mathematics, six persons is not a lot of persons to satisfy
        the condition for a crime to be canonically “public”!

         

        In this work, Moral Theology,
        the theologian Father Heirbert Jone, OFM remarks

         

        “If a public
        sinner wants to receive the sacraments in a place, where his delicts are
        unknown, then the sacraments must be also denied him there, if his delicts will
        become known in this place soon.”

         

        “That one be no
        longer considered a public sinner, it is generally sufficient that he be known
        to have gone to Confession.  If he is living in a proximate, voluntary
        occasion of sin (e.g. in concubinage) he must, as a rule, first give this
        up.  In the example given, he must likewise repair public scandal (e.g.,
        by disapproving of a wayward life.)”

         

        Was Barbara Johnson’s ongoing
        lesbian relationship with Ruth Gresser manifest?  Here Father Macdonald
        quotes the obituary (which was available on cards for the funeral in the
        church.)  The recently deceased lady was described as the

                                       

        “beloved and adored mother of Larry Johnson of Bluemont, VA,
        Nita Johnson of Rockville, MD, Michael and Robyn Johnson of Laytonsville, MD,
        Beverly Johnson of Gaithersburg, MD, Barbara Johnson and Ruth Gresser of Silver
        Spring, MD and Rose Fikak of Arlington, VA“.

         

        Father Macdonald points out that

         

        “Only one sibling is named with his spouse. Other female
        siblings are listed with their married names and no mention of the spouse.
        There is no reason to suspect that Ruth is a gay partner. There is no way to
        tell that she is her gay partner. Precision. Precision. Precision.”

         

        I agree with Father Macdonald. 
        A internet viewing of the
        obituary, would not likely lead somebody to
        suspect that Barbara Johnson is the lesbian lover of Ruth Gresser.

         

        However, “reasonableness” is an
        assumed principle in the law.  What was reasonable for Father Guarnizo to
        assume there in the church during the funeral that morning?  Barbara
        Johnson had introduced her lover Ruth Gresser minutes before the Mass. 
        During the funeral Barbara Johnson sat next to her lover Ruth Gresser in the
        front pew.  Upon reading the obituary, as a sibling of Barbara Johnson, it
        would be completely reasonable to know the homosexual
        relationship of Ruth Gresser and Barbara Johnson at least at the time of the
        funeral.  Upon reading the obituary, a sibling who does not know the
        identity of Ruth Gresser before the funeral would naturally ask the questions
        “Who’s Ruth Gresser?”  “Why is she listed as a close family member to my
        mother?”  “Why is her name next to Barbara Johnson’s?  It would
        be incredibly bizarre if Barbara Johnson’s siblings did not
        inquire into the relationship between Barbara Johnson and Ruth Gresser.

         

        According to traditional thought of
        many canonists, how many people need to know for a offense to be public? 
        Six.  How many immediate family members does Barbara Johnson have
        according to the obituary notice?  Six (not including Ruth).

         

        On top of that, add the great host
        of the recently deceased’s sisters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren and friends
        who would have naturally asked that same question.  “Why is Ruth Gresser
        on the obituary as a daughter-in-law and sitting in the front pew?”  People
        talk about each other at intimate family gatherings such as funerals.

         

        Again, does this satisfy the term
        “public”?  Here is Ed Peters’ translation of the 1917 Code, canon 2197

         

        A delict [canonical crime] is

         

        1º “public, if it is already known or is in such
        circumstances that it can be and must be prudently judged that it will easily
        become known”.

         

        Given this definition of “public”, I
        disagree with Father Macdonald and Ed Peters.  It was prudent for Father
        Guarnizo to judge that the lesbian relationship between Barbara Johnson and
        Ruth Gresser would at least “easily become known” at the time of funeral.

         

        Father Macdonald and Ed Peters do
        not seem entirely convinced of the well-respected Father William Woestman’s
        explanation of the relevant words of canon 915, i.e., “obstinately persevering
        in manifest grave sin.”

         

        Father Macdonald says

         

        “It’s fine to cite another excellent canonist, Fr. Woestman,
        “the public reception of Communion by a public sinner implies that the Church
        and her ministers somehow condone the public serious sin,” But how does that
        quotation contribute to the argument which is precisely about what constitutes
        a “public” sinner.  I agree with Fr. Woestman’s statement, but not with
        Fr. Anonymous’ conclusions.”

         

        Ed Peters mentions that

         

        “And we all agree with Woestman, the question is, what do
        the words W uses mean in canon law?”

         

        In his explanation of the words
        “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin.”  found in his work Sacraments
        Initiation, Penance and Anointing of the Sick”, Father Woestman, OMI quotes
        the Roman Rituale, Blessed John Paul II’s letter Familaris
        Consortio, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Prefect of the Congregation for the
        Doctrine of the Faith, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Pontifical
        Council for Legislative Texts.  These same sources are referenced in
        my defense of Father
        Guarnizo.  He concludes that”

         

        “Needless to say, the same principles
        [as contained the sources just referenced] apply to everyone whose habitual
        lifestyle is manifestly gravely sinful, e.g., the unmarried “living
        together,” homosexuals or lesbians in a public relationship,
        those actively participating in the performance of abortions, drug traffickers,
        gang members.”

         

        Those are the steps to Father
        Woestman’s argument.  If someone disagrees with the conclusion, the onus
        is on him to disprove or reject one of the premises.  Which premise or
        step does Ed Peters reject?  Although already stated, Ed Peters holds:

         

        “withholding Holy
        Communion from those divorced and remarried outside the Church is an
        application of Canon 915 (see, e.g., Kelly, in GB&I COMM [1995] 503), but I
        need not prove that point to show that withholding the Eucharist from
        divorced-and-remarrieds, that is, those who status is de iure public,
        is appropriate under, among other things, the 1994 CDF Letter on Communion for
        Divorced and Remarried Catholics, n. 6. Of course, as Johnson is apparently not
        divorced and remarried outside the Church, and because Guarnizo did not suspect
        her of being so, his implicit appeal to the CDF letter and/or c. 915, fails in
        law and in fact.”

         

        On this point, Father Macdonald
        concurs with Ed Peters since

         

        “It’s also fine to cite papal documents etc. but we need to
        understand that those very documents are dealing with cases of de iure
        objective sin: the divorced and remarried, the voting records of
        politicians.  By public declaration of law, those situations become
        manifest and obstinate.  The question we are dealing with is how to apply
        those arguments to the similar case of objective sin which is not de
        iure public.”

         

        What is all this talk about “de
        iure”?

         

        Traditional canon law makes the
        distinction between “infamia de iure” and “infamia facti”.  Infamia (infamy)
        is the loss one’s good name.  “Infamy de iure” (infamy from
        the law) can be contracted by the commission of certain crimes, the decision of
        a judge or the reception of a penalty.  For example, infamia de
        iure would take effect, following canonical heresy as stated in Canon
        751.

         

        Can. 751 “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt
        after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine
        and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith;
        schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with
        the members of the Church subject to him.”

         

        Infamia facti (literally, infamy of fact) would come about with the loss
        of one’s good name in the eyes of the community by being known, for example, as
        a drug dealer.

         

        Infamia de iure and Infamia facti are not necessarily
        exclusive of one another.

         

        Father Macdonald argues that in the
        citations Father Woestman offers

         

        “we need to understand that those very documents are dealing
        with cases of de iure objective sin: the divorced and remarried, the voting
        records of politicians.  By public declaration of law, those situations
        become manifest and obstinate.  The question we are dealing with
        is how to apply those arguments to the similar case of objective sin which is
        not de iure public.”

         

        Given that Father Macdonald and Ed
        Peters agree that those who are divorced and remarried may be denied Holy
        Communion because of infamia de iure.  Objectively, according
        to their respective moral objects, a public active homosexual relationship is
        worse than a situation of divorce and remarriage.

         

        Logically, Father Woestman is using
        a simple but effective “a
        fortiori” argument.

         

        “A” is a situation of divorce and
        remarriage.

        “B” is a public and active
        homosexual relationship

         

        1.      The priest has a canonical obligation to deny somebody who
        is infamous de iure because of “A”.

         

        2.      Suppose “B” is a situation morally worse than “A” and “B” is
        publicly known.

         

        3. If infamy is consequent upon “A”,
        then infamy must definitely be consequent upon “B”.

         

        Moral theology, the spirit of the
        law, the mind of the legislator and logic are on the side of Father Woestman in
        this case.  Must we wait for homosexual unions to be civilly “legalized”
        in order apply canon 915 if such cases are already publicly known?

         

        In this case, Father Woestman is
        correct to conclude that

                                                                                              

        “needless to say, the same principles
        [as contained in the sources referenced in A Canonical Defense
        of Father Guarnizo] apply to everyone
        whose habitual lifestyle is manifestly gravely sinful, e.g., the unmarried
        “living together,” homosexuals or lesbians in a public
        relationship, those actively participating in the performance of abortions,
        drug traffickers, gang members.”

         

        If drug traffickers and gang members
        are infamous, but not infamous “strictly de iure”, then surely
        active and public homosexuals are also infamous.

  • Chris B.

    Our priests are in a no-win situation.  Make no mistake, liberal Catholics have an agenda and will do anything to cause dissention.  Either we let everyone take communion and it be on their own head regarding their status or leave it up to the priest to make a decision.  If the priest is to be the one making the decision then he should have the backing of his superiors.

  • Cathym

    God Bless You, Father!  We need more priests like you!

  • Pingback: A priest and a lesbian walk into a bar . . . | Wizbang

  • Chrisbeth2000

    Praying for you, Father Guarnizo…Your actions could not have been any other. God bless!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    I am mystified by the canon lawyer’s elision over what seems pretty obvious to me.  A woman enters the vestry — for what reason?  To inform the priest that she is engaging in sodomy.  That is the only reasonable meaning of, “This is my lover.”  In those circumstances, too, what is a reasonable person supposed to assume, other than that she wished to defy him?  She was not, after all, asking his permission, but was acting aggressively against him, and thus also against the Sacrament.  It’s been done by others, with the same modus operandi.  How can her approach to him, informing him gratuitously of her sinful state, and knowing well what the Church teachings are, be interpreted as other than the result of odium?

    • Kostas

       Barbara Johnson has stated that she did not use the term “lover”.  She also states that following the Mass at which Fr Guarnizo denied her communion, walked out of the sanctuary during the eulogy, and did not attend the graveside service, she attempted to reach him by e-mail, and he did not reply to her.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

        1. I would not believe her, for several reasons.  In all of these one-on-one disputes over what was or what was not said, I always give the nod to the one who did not seek the fight, and who is not saying bad things about the other.  She wants to remove him from his priestly duties, and for what?  She knows quite well that she should not have received communion, because she is not a Catholic, and she is living in what Catholics consider to be mortal sin.  Knowing all that, she still dares to attempt, essentially, to ruin this man’s career.  Look, we already know by her own admission that she is capable of gross dishonesty. 

        2. If she did not use the word “lover,” she must have used some equivalent term, perhaps “partner.”

        3. Father Guarnizo has explained his absence from the sacristy.  If you know anyone who suffers from severe migraines, you would not be surprised by his behavior.  He may have gone into the bathroom to be sick — or in case he was going to be sick.

        4. We do not know about the content of that e-mail.  Would you be surprised if it was abusive and vile?  He did not respond to the e-mail; I make a practice of never responding to an abusive letter.  Responding often does more harm than good.

  • 1Indioviejo1

    Unfortunately the Archdiocese is adept at being politically correct in trowing Fr. Guranizo under the proverbial bus.  Same ole, same ole.   May God Bless Fr. Guranizo and deliver him from evil,Amen.

  • hombre111

    A funeral, one of the most delicate of all pastoral moments,  is no time to make a theological point.  Even if his explanation gets the facts right, his lack of priestly experience shows.  Whatever he did next, was going to have undesirable consequences.   Faced once with a similar moment, I thought of a famous sinner who received Communion from the hands of the Pope himself, who seemed to assume that Jesus would rule over any situation.  And so I gave Communion, trusting that it could be a moment of forgiveness and grace.   Father Guarnizo chose to take a lose lose position.  If his hope was to protect the Eucharist, and the Church, from sacrilege, he failed miserably.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Esolen/1184164082 Tony Esolen

    But Father Hombre — there is no evidence that Father Guarnizo would have denied her Communion had he simply believed, let’s say by rumor, that she had been living in grave sin.  She was the one who made a theological point of the reception, or a political point.  I’m also guessing — we can only guess — that his actions will inspire priests everywhere to stand up for what we believe.  Ms. Johnson’s actions are so willful and contemptuous of the Church, and so personally malicious, that priests will derive the obvious lesson, regardless of what the press would have us believe.

  • Midget01

    Dear Fr. Guarnizo: I applaud you on behalf of the whole church that you continue to try to uphold the rules of the church in a society that believes they are in control of everything including God. If she had not spoke with you directly inregards to her situation and then given her communion the sin would hers only because she had not revealed it. But to make it open knowledge and then expect you to forgive and forget with no intention of changing her ways is a misguided ideology that is occurring all over the world. People today want what they want when they want it even though they don’t understand the long term consequences on their soul. People hear of priests who hold back communion or Bishops who don’t grant annulments and the first person the people blame is the Church. In reality people who hear this are not told the whole story. Why is it people want to believe the sinner and not the person who is trying to guide them. Where is their faith in all of this? We need to publically hear the rules of God so that when things happen there is no doubt who is wrong. Just because a person calls themselves Catholic today does not mean they understand the rules of the Church and why we do them. So instead of thinking we can address this only from the pulpit it does need to be made public in the media’s. It is a strange way to have to evangelize but perhaps we are being called to speak out loudly in regards to our faith. Catholics you need to stop being so quick to believe the friend or person who is talking to you about what a bad thing the church has done and start realizing you don’t know all the rubrics of the Church. We are not a democratic society like the government. We don’t vote on how or what rules to follow. If you feel you should be able to then take a look at what it means to be Catholic and whether you truly can call yourself Catholic. While you are baptized that does not give you the right to make the rules up as you please. God gave us the commandments and 12 men to govern our church which is God’s way of guiding us to heaven. If we chose not to do this than we are not a Catholic in good standing and either take a deep look at our thinking or realize that this is not the church for us. What a loss but to force people to change the rules because you chose not to follow them can only come from Satan. And even He will not be allowed to receive communion should he present himself as Satan with his intentions. At some point when we are angry at the group we wish to belong to but don’t act like they do why do we not understand that the group has a right to shun us until we try to do what the rest of the group requires to be a member. I know that is putting it simply but sometimes those who want their own way need to hear it simply before they realize what their actions are doing. This is not a church of one but of millions and it was not started yesterday and has rules that have not changed for centuries; because they are God given rules. What makes this woman think the rest of the world needs to adjust to her way of thinking . Because she hit upon a Eucharistic Minister that had no idea of the circumstance that had taken place makes this a worse sin that her original attempt to confess who she was and try to receive communion in the first place. Cannot other people see the wrong side of this on her part. How spoiled and demanding she is trying to be. When we read about such sins in the bible we would say that Jesus was right but when it is placed in front of us today why are there suddenly grey areas. Compassion for a sinner has it’s place and I feel that the priest showed a great amount in trying to perform the ceremony without any extra due attention towards the dead womans daughter who seemed to show little respect for her own mother. It is a sign of the way society is today. I want what I want when I want it. It doesn’t matter about hearing her side. As Catholics we know the rules about Communion or if we don’t then perhaps we need to take a much deeper look at our faith and ask ourselves do we really understand why we do what we do and should we not hold other Catholics accountable for their indiscretions when they make a public spectacle out of themselves. We can forgive when the person realizes they have done wrong but when they continue to chose sin we can not condone it. Thanks you father for defending out faith.

MENU