ABC NEWS and The Washington Post just broke the story of a Washington D.C. woman who was recently dealt a double blow on the very same day her mother was being laid to rest at Saint John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Loetta Johnson, 85, had been a devout Catholic, raising her four children in the church and sending them to Catholic schools. As she lay on her death bed, her daughter Barbara was ever-present, reciting Hail Mary’s for her mother whom she loved so much. Loetta eventually passed away, and during the funeral ceremony, Rev. Marcel Guarnizo singlehandedly turned what was already the worst day of Barbara’s life into an even worse one — he refused Johnson the sacramental bread and wine.
“He covered the bowl with the Eucharist with his hand and looked at me, and said I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin in the eyes of the church,” Johnson told ABC News affiliate WJLA. Larry Johnson, her older brother, could not believe his eyes: “I walked to the side of the church to console her, because she was clearly distraught,” Johnson told ABC NEWS. Larry Johnson said his sister, who has been in a committed gay relationship for 19 years, composed herself enough to give her mother’s eulogy, but then he was shocked at what happened next. The priest left the altar, Johnson said, and didn’t return until his sister was nearly finished speaking. Family members added that the priest failed to come to the grave site, and the burial was attended by a substitute priest found by the funeral director. Larry and his sister were quite simply devastated: “This isn’t about gay rights and it isn’t about Catholic bashing, it is simply about the conduct of a reprehensible priest,” said Mr. Johson.
Guarnizo did not return an email asking for a comment about the incident, and The Archdiocese of Washington had no public comment about the priest’s behavior, but issued a statement that indicated Guarnizo should have taken up the matter of whether Johnson could receive communion in private. “When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion,” the statement said, “it is not the policy of the Archdiocese to Washington to publicly reprimand the person.” The archdiocese said it is looking into the incident and that it would handle it as a personnel issue.
I am not a Christian, although I do believe in the life and message of Jesus Christ — the very same message, in fact, as Buddha and Mohammed. Heaven is not a divine patch of real estate in the sty — heaven is enlightenment, and if one works hard enough in their lifetime he/she can experience this enlightenment while still alive — affectionately known as “Heaven on Earth”. There is no room for dogma of any sort in our civilization — just as alchemy led to chemistry and astrology led to astronomy, so too will religion eventually give way to pure philosophy. Many organized religions around the world have realized this, and have reoriented their structures to be more inline with this philosophy. So why any Christian on Earth would choose to remain Catholic and loyal to the Vatican in 2012 when there are so many more progressive options available for Christians is beyond me. So long as there are Catholic authorities of Rev. Marcel Guarnizo’s sort in this world, the human species will never fully rise to its full height as demanded by its dignity and intelligence.
You can email Reverend Marcel Guarnizo yourself at email@example.com as well as the church’s pastor, Reverend Thomas G. LaHood, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please spread the word and fight for enlightenment.
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