Priest Denying Communion to Active Lesbian Somehow Front Page News for WaPo

Just days after Maryland's state legislature passed same-sex "marriage," the Washington Post trumpeted on its front page how a "deep in grief" woman in a long-term lesbian relationship had been denied Communion by a Catholic priest during her mother's funeral in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The woman accused the cleric of playing "politics...and you will pay dearly on the day of judgment for judging me."

It took writer Michelle Boorstein seven paragraphs to finally give a statement from a representative of the Archdiocese of Washington, who criticized the pastoral approach of the priest, but not necessarily his defense of Catholic teaching, which states that those living in mortal sin cannot approach the Eucharist. It took the journalist another four paragraphs to reproduce a comment defending the priest's actions from an anonymous blogger.

CBS's local affiliate in DC, WUSA9, also covered the controversy, but gave a completely one-sided story about the lesbian, supposedly a "lifelong Catholic and former Catholic school teacher" named Barbara Johnson, who is also calling for the removal of the cleric, Father Marcel Guarnizo, from parish life. In his write-up summarizing their on-air story, writer Matt Jablow omitted Johnson's call for Father Gurnizo's removal.

Boorstein front-loaded the first six paragraphs of her article, titled "Seeking Communion, finding rejection" on the front page (titled differently online), with a florid and sympathetic account of Johnson's mother's funeral, and included her fire-and-brimstone condemnation of the priest who officiated. A misleading subtitle, "During mother's funeral service in Md., lesbian is told by priest her orientation is a sin," accompanied the article, though the writer noted that Father Guarnizo took issue with her relationship specifically. Boorstein also disclosed that Johnson's lesbian "partner of 20 years" was present at the funeral:

Deep in grief, Barbara Johnson stood first in the line for Communion at her mother's funeral Saturday morning. But the priest in front of her immediately made it clear that she would not receive the sacramental bread and wine.

Johnson, an art-studio owner from the District, had come to St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg with her lesbian partner. The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo had learned of their relationship just before the service.

"He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, 'I can't give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,'" she recalled Tuesday.

She reacted with stunned silence. Her anger and outrage have now led her and members of her family to demand that Guarnizo be removed from his ministry.

Family members said the priest left the altar while Johnson, 51, was delivering a eulogy and did not attend the burial or find another priest to be there.

"You brought your politics, not your God into that Church yesterday, and you will pay dearly on the day of judgment for judging me," she wrote in a letter to Guarnizo. "I will pray for your soul, but first I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families."

Though the Washington Post journalist did indirectly point out the central Catholic belief that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, through her quote of Johnson in the third paragraph, she didn't explain this belief in her article, even downplaying it as "sacramental bread and wine." The anonymous pro-Father Guarnizo blogger cited Canon 915 in the Code of Canon Law for the Catholic Church, which states that "those...obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion." Johnson certainly is someone "persevering in manifest grave sin," given her admitted 20-year relationship with another woman, but Boorstein didn't explain what Canon 915 was.

More fundamentally, the eleventh chapter of St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians makes it clear that "he that eateth and drinketh [the Eucharist] unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." It doesn't get more clear than that in Catholic dogma, and by his action, Father Guarnizo was sparing her from the grave sin of sacrilege.

But there is a split in the Catholic hierarchy as to how to heed this age-old warning, as well as enforce the relevant part of canon law. Boorstein noted later in her article that "Guarnizo's refusal...seemed at odds with the strong stand against denial of Communion to Catholics enunciated by the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl." However, other high-ranking American clerics have denied Communion to not only those "persevering in manifest grave sin," but also those who materially support sins. Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis denied the Eucharist to supporters of same-sex "marriage" during a Mass in 2010. The writer omitted any discussion of these details from her article.

In the online version, Boorstein linked to her colleague Michael S. Rosenwald's Wednesday article about Father Guarnizo. After gushing over her "gripping story," Rosenwald detailed how he tried to find the priest at his Gaithersburg parish, St. John Neumann to ask him to obviously slanted question, "'Do you regret not offering her Communion? I mean, her mother just died. Why did you do this?" He added, "The church's Web site, after all, mentions a mural 'that adorns our sanctuary depicts Christ as the Savior of ALL People."


After not being able to track down the cleric, Rosenwald related that he "wonder how old Guarnizo is....whether he was a rigid man, or a forgiving one. I found him on YouTube. He seems to be...relatively young...thin...and well spoken, and in the video...he took an extremely hardline stand against abortion last year in Germantown at a rally...[where] he calls a doctor who performs abortions...[and] compares the act of abortion to the crimes and criminals of Nazi Germany during the Holocaust." In the writer's obviously left-leaning view, a Catholic priest telling the truth about abortion and defending his Church's teaching on the gravely evil act at a pro-life rally is "extremely hardline." He urged his readers to view the "remarkable video," and embedded it near the end of his article.

Yet again, the Washington Post revealed the complete misunderstanding of Christianity in general, and Catholicism specifically, and through their overblown coverage of this controversy, showed that they are completely in the tank for far-left homosexual activists.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center