Maryland priest who denied lesbian communion at funeral placed on leave

A priest who denied communion to a gay woman at her mother’s funeral mass has been put on leave by the Washington D.C.-area archdiocese, but the archdiocese said the suspension is not related to the communion controversy.

In a statement, the archdiocese said Father Marcel Guarnizo was placed on administrative leave because of “credible allegation that Father Guarnizo had engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others.”

The statement did not elaborate on what that behavior might have been.

Guarnizo, a suburban Maryland priest, had been criticized by Barbara Johnson and her family for his behavior at the funeral of Johnson’s mother. Johnson, who is a lesbian, said Guarnizo denied her communion at her mother’s funeral mass.

“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 WLJA in Washington.

“She was clearly distraught,”  her older brother Larry Johnson told ABC News.

ABC News Radio, March 12, 2012

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