Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, the Catholic priest from Gaithersburg, MD who denied a lesbian Communion at her mother's funeral and later walked out during her eulogy — because that's just how the Catholic Church rolls sometimes, common civility be damned — has been placed on administrative leave from ministry by the Washington archdiocese.
A letter from top archdiocese administrator Bishop Barry Knestout explained that the Guarnizo's punishment was for "engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry." Knestou's letter was read during all masses at St. John Neumann this weekend. The pastor there, Thomas LaHood, prefaced the letter with some thoughts of his own about the real reason behind Guarnizo's forced leave, which, he asserted and repeated, had nothing to do with the Communion showdown:
As we know there's been disagreement within the parish over how and to whom Communion is distributed. From my perspective this disagreement and related emotions flow from love. Love for Christ, really and truly present in the Eucharist. However, how we live out this love is important. The Scriptures tell us that we are known above all by how we love.
Love doesn't motivate people to publicly condemn and embarrass others at their most vulnerable moments, but it's (slightly) encouraging to know that at least Garunizo's dickery hasn't gone unnoticed or unpunished by the Catholic Church.
Gaithersburg Catholic priest placed on leave for ‘intimidating behavior' [Washington Post]