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Priest who denied lesbian communion at mother's funeral leaves church

Christian lesbian in US takes 'great comfort' in hearing vicar who refused her holy sacrament has left archdiocese
Barbara Johnson, 51, was refused communion because she was a lesbian

A Roman Catholic priest who denied a lesbian communion at her mother's funeral has left the church where he was stationed.

The Reverend Marcel Guarnizo refused to give 51-year-old Barbara Johnson the sacramental bread and wine after learning of her sexuality before the service to bury her mother.

Johnson claimed the priest said: 'I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin.'

The incident sparked outrage and debate, with some demanding Guarnizo’s dismissal.

Now MSNBC.com reports that the vicar is no longer at St John Neumann in Gaithersburg or in any position in the Washington archdiocese.

'Fr. Marcel Guarnizo is a priest of the Archdiocese of Moscow, Russia, who was given a temporary assignment at St. John Neumann parish,' Chieko Noguchi Scheve, director of media and public relations for the archdiocese of Washington, told MSNBC.com today (10 July).

'That assignment period has ended and Father Guarnizo is no longer in ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington.'

Johnson, who had previously said she would not rest until Guarnizo was removed from parish life, told the US news website she was 'relieved' the cleric had left.

She said: 'It gives me great comfort to see that the Archdiocese of Washington acted swiftly initially not only to point out that his behavior was wrong and not in accordance with their policy but then to suspend him.

'And this final message from them says to me that, unfortunately, this was not a person that was meant to be in the ministry in this region. Knowing that he will not be able to visit such pain on another family in the Washington archdiocese gives me and my family a lot of comfort.

'I just wish that there was a more global and more positive church response to the LGBT community.'

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