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Priest who allegedly denied a lesbian communion put on administrative leave

Priest who allegedly denied a lesbian communion put on administrative leave

Last month Washington, D.C. resident Barbara Johnson attended her mother's funeral in Gaithersburg, Maryland. According to Johnson, her 19 year partner was assisting the family in the church. Father Marcel Guarnizo asked the grieving daughter who she was and Johnson said, as she told the Washington Post, 'I’m her partner.'

Johnson alleges Guarnizo refused her communion.

'"I can’t give you communion because you live with a woman and in the eyes of the church that is a sin,"' Johnson maintains the priest told her.

Father Guarnizo also allegedly left the altar as Johnson was delivering the eulogy, and was not present when the body was ready for burial. There was no replacement priest.

As reported by the Washington Blade, the priest has been put on administrative leave.

In a letter, dated on 9 March, announcing the move there is no mention of the Johnson incident. Instead church officials note they will look into charges of ill treatment of staff .

'This action was taken after I received credible allegations that Father Guarnizo has engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry,' wrote Bishop Barry C. Knestout, chief of staff to Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who heads the Archdiocese. 'Given the grave nature of these allegations, and in light of the confusion in the parish and the concerns expressed by parishioners, Father Guarnizo is prohibited from exercising any priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington until all matters can be appropriately resolved, with the hope that he might return to priestly ministry.'

Johnson's story has been covered extensively by the gay media, and has earned mainstream television news attention. She was recently interviewed by MSNBC.