Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bad Behavior Is Sometimes Punished

by Dick Mac

Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, the Gaithersburg, Maryland, Catholic priest who denied Communion to a lesbian woman at her mother's funeral, has been "barred from ministry."

In a letter dated March 9, 2012, Bishop Barry Knestout, an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., which the Maryland suburbs, concluded that Guarnizo engaged in "intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry."

It is news to me that "intimidation" is improper in the Catholic hierarchy. I thought there were two thousand years of the Church using intimidation to run their business. I guess times have changed.

That aside, it is impressive that the Catholic hierarchy would respond so publicly to political pressure in the media.

The Diocese was quick to equivocate, of course, and published an op-ed in the Washington Post that actually supports the notion that it is OK for a priest to deny Communion to a homosexual.

In their insulting equivocation, the diocese expects us to accept:
a person should be in the state of grace, which means that they are not conscious of having committed a sin serious enough that it ruptures their relationship with God.

See, Barbara Johnson and the importance of Communion: A statement from the Washington Archdiocese
This is ludicrous!

When I watch hundreds of Catholics from my diocese in Brooklyn line-up for Communion, I know that the state of grace in which they live varies dramatically from person to person. I also know that the majority of them have no idea what it means to be in a state of grace; and that perhaps even more of them are completely "conscious of having committed a sin serious enough that it ruptures their relationship with God." They may have confessed that sin and received absolution, but one only need visit a Catholic church on Saturday afternoon, when confessions are being heard, to know that a very tiny percentage of the people in line for Communion have seen the inside of a confessional recently.

No, the Diocese of Washington does not want to deny Communion to heterosexuals who are not in a state of grace, and would never dare to presume that one is a sinner. No, the Diocese of Washington is making it clear that they can deny Communion to homosexuals, as long as they don't behave in an "intimidating" manner.

I applaud the Church for suspending Guarnizo, but I believe they have done themselves, and all Catholics, a disservice by trying to frame the incident in the context of all homosexuals being sinners.

And the concluding statement: "The Second Vatican Council proclaimed that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. As such it is a sign of unity, but it must be a unity that is based on authentic Church teaching and mutual respect in charity."

The use of the word "unity" seems to mean the exact opposite in this article. The Church's inability to see past their own homophobia is embarrassing. Even when the Church wants to make an inclusive statement about the rights of all Catholics, they can't get past their fear of sex and homosexuals.

This is a sad state of affairs.

Again, I applaud the Diocese for removing the offending priest from public ministry; but I am disheartened (again) by the Church's equivocation in the matter of homosexuality.

Bad Behavior At A Catholic Funeral

Gay Catholic Leaders Applaud Priest's Removal from Ministry, Repeat Calls for Dialogue with Church Leaders

Gaithersburg Catholic priest placed on leave for 'intimidating behavior'

Priest Who Denied Lesbian Communion Suspended

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