The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, who late last
month denied Barbara Johnson communion at her mother's funeral, has
been placed on administrative leave, The
Washington Post reported.
Johnson, a 51-year-old District of
Columbia artist, has said that Guarnizo denied her communion during
her mother's funeral Mass, saying she could not receive the sacrament
“because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that
is a sin.”
While the Washington archdiocese has
confirmed that Guarnizo has been placed on leave from his post at St.
John Neumann in Gaithersburg, Maryland, the pastor there, the Rev.
Thomas LaHood, mentioned repeatedly during Sunday's Mass that
Guarnizo's removal was not related to the Communion incident, saying
only that it “pertains to actions over the past week or two.”
In a letter read at all Masses this
weekend at St. John Neumann, the archdiocese said that the priest was
suspended for “engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish
staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry.”
The archdiocese earlier apologized for
the Guarnizo's actions.
In a statement released Sunday, the
Johnson family said the suspension was unrelated to the case, but
they hope the “decision will ensure that no others will have to
undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family.”