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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More Thoughts on Fr. Guarnizo and the Funeral

There's an interesting discussion of the Fr. Guarnizo/Barbara Johnson funeral controversy at The Deacon's Bench (TDB) with additional information about what happened. (See: There's More to This Story) Presuming the email sent to TDB was accurate, and it's certainly plausible, Fr. Guarnizo:
1) Talked to the woman before Mass. She made it clear she was a lesbian living with her "lover" and he told her she should not approach for Communion. 
2) Father was, in fact feeling sick which explains his leaving the altar and not going to the grave. He arranged for someone else to accompany the body for internment, a fact omitted in every news and blog report
3) Barbara Johnson apparently presented a seriously distorted version of what happened to make Fr. Guarnizo look as bad as possible and went all out for the publicity making herself the victim and trying to destroy this priest's ministry.
4) Unfortunately, and not surprising, the Cardinal threw the priest under the bus, one more example of persecuting a good priest.
Prior to this additional information about what actually happened last Saturday, which is less sensational and more believable than the hysterical reporting, there was another discussion at TDB that I found deeply troubling. It included some comments about Canon Law 915 from canon lawyer Ed Peters whom I respect. He believed, according to the news reports which were obviously and on their face incomplete and sensational, that the priest was wrong. Since, according to Barbara Johnson, Fr. Guarnizo had just learned about the situation, how could she be said to "obstinately persist in manifest grave sin?" was his main point as I understand it. That seemed to be splitting hairs to me. The Church's position on active homosexuality is well known and Johnson's situation, which she shoved in the priest's face, fits by its nature the plain truth of persisting in "manifest grave sin." The woman didn't, after all, ask Father to go to Confession before the funeral. And there was obviously no intention to leave the sinful situation.

But that's not my only concern. Nowhere in the TDB discussion did anyone mention the scandal. Certainly if Barbara Johnson introduced her "lover" to the priest, that's how she introduces her to others. Many at the funeral must have known the situation. No doubt there were active homosexual friends in the congregation. Compare this to the Rainbow Sash movement that announces their active homosexuality and tries to receive Communion on Pentecost Sunday wearing the rainbow sash. Barbara Johnson did the same thing except that she wore a verbal sash almost daring the priest to do anything. Not only would she have committed a mortal sin of sacrilege by receiving Communion, but a mortal sin of scandal as well. Whether she had the complete knowledge of her actions only God can judge  (It's hard to imagine she didn't given her background.),  but certainly the other two requirements for a mortal sin were there: it was a grave sin and she gave full consent to it. Fr. Guarnizo spared this woman from her own sinful presumption at great personal cost.

Now how exactly did we end up in this situation where a parish priest is put in a position like this and is punished for what was, indeed, a pastoral action? Once again the moral responsibility falls at the feet of our bishops. They have failed to preach the truth. They have muddled the teaching of the Church and allowed "gay liturgies" that imply acceptance of the active homosexual lifestyle. They have failed to discipline renegade priests and nuns like Fr. Robert Nugent and Sr. Jeannine Gramick unless Rome intervenes. They have permitted gay advocacy groups like Dignity and New Ways Ministry to flourish in their dioceses. They have done nothing about gay parishes like Most Holy Redeemer in San Francisco, St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis, Our Lady Queen of Peace and St. Francis in my own diocese of Arlington, and scores of others around the country. Yes, the bishops gave us this latest Catholic-bashing crisis and it's a wake-up call to every priest in the country. Who will be next? Cardinal Wuerl's reaction doesn't surprise me. He had a reputation in Pittsburgh for advancing the gay movement and persecuting the orthodox. So it must have come easy to throw the priest under the bus.

In closing, I have a few questions for Barbara Johnson. If you didn't want controversy at your mom's funeral, why did you inject your disordered relationship by introducing your lesbian partner to Fr. Guarnizo as your "lover?" Why did you make a point of going to Communion after he told you not to knowing you would probably be refused? Who turned this into a media event and a witch hunt to end the ministry of a good priest?

The best thing anyone can do for this poor woman and her "lover" is to fast and pray for their conversion. And please pray for Fr. Guarnizo whose head is being demanded as the price of his integrity


  1. The curious case of a crucifixion of the innocent.

    May God have mercy on us all. May God give Bishop Knestout and Archbishop Wuerl the grace to act accordingly.


  2. There was a similar incident in one of the parishes near me. I refused to go to the funeral of the son of a lady I knew in the parish because I knew it was going to be turned into a homosexual and Lesbian circus. Instead I sent a Mass card for the son to the mother. A priest at that parish later trashed a bishop, without naming him, for telling the politicans not to go to a homosexual and Lesbian parade. I corrected that priest charitably by showing in a letter to him Church documentation about the difference between orientation and homsexual practic. Priests and laypeople DO have to speak out, charitably but firmly. My only mistake was not to send a copy of it to my bishop and the Vatican since my bishop is somewhat liberal on certain things.

  3. Ah! the drama of homosexual rage played out in the Washington Compost: a funeral, two lovers and a compasssssssssionate Archbishop. And, aha my pretty! the priest bigot delivering a hateful judgement on a bereaved daughter's behavior. SHOCKING! JUST SHOCKING!!

  4. As I've been reading about this situation, I have reflected on the fact that people seem to always focus on the feelings of the person who is refused communion--the embarrassment, the shame, the rejection or whatever else. Hurting someone's feelings is seen as a serious evil. "You have no right to judge!" is the mantra. (Of course, that's ridiculous. We not only have the right but the responsibility to judge wisely. See Solomon.)
    All of these statements are simply ignorant. They are made by people who do not understand what they are saying. If they truly knew what the Eucharist is--that it is almighty God--they would see that the courageous father did the most loving thing he could for the grieving daughter. Because it was the daughter who made the choice. As a Catholic, she chose to ignore God's laws about marriage and sexuality and live outside of them. Deliberately living outside of God's laws is called mortal sin and what it means for our souls is that God's light no longer shines there. It is literally no longer welcome. What happens in a body where God is not welcome in the soul but He is taken physically in communion? It is a sacrilege but in addition to that--would it not harden the person in his or her sin making repentance (and forgiveness and heaven) ever less likely?
    I sometimes think things were better in the time of St Therese when the faithful received communion infrequently. These days, we receive any time we want, under both species, wearing things we might wear to the beach.
    I doubt the priest would want any fuss made for doing his duty but in my mind, he's a hero. Why aren't there more of them at the helm steering us safely to heaven?

  5. Fr. Guarnizo is doomed. He will be sacrificed because, in AmChurch, defending Truth and protecting the Blessed Sacrament from sacrilege and abuse doesn't rate half as high as appeasing militant deviancy groups. Get out your barf bags and prepare to watch the archdiocese grovel.

  6. Alice Doyle, you talk about the judgement mantra. It IS huge. Yesterday I posted this on the National Catholic Reporter about what I call "judgement anxiety" and it is gone this morning. Yes, Alice, it is ALL about judgement...

    This episode shows how strong "judgment anxiety" is in Catholics who leave serious right and wrong decisions to their own will and not what the church teaches. Pro-choice Catholics despise "being judged" as well. Defiance, anger, and hurt are understandable defenses against the anxiety that is stirred especially if you live in the Washington Post world. Father reached deep into the place where Barbars's rebellion hides from grace. God never gives up trying to love us back to Him.

  7. The thing that I don't understand is this: if Father's pastor said he was wrong, and his Bishop said he was wrong... they why do you say he was right?

  8. I'll try to answer that: This priest was right because he did what ANY priest for the last 2000 years would do and what canon law says he should do and he prevented a grave sacrilege. He also protected a very ignorant person from committing another grave sin. The last 40 years have proven that we cannot trust bishops and priests of local dioceses to always teach the right thing and they certainly don't have the charism of infallibility. What do I mean? Take Humanae Vitae: US Bishop and priests have refused to teach this, refused to defend it and undermine it. Now that the government is agreeing and asking them to fund the very thing they winked and nodded at for the last 40 years, suddenly they are up in arms about the violation of their rights. Have the bishops and priests suddenly converted to Humanae Vitae? Doubtful. I would like to trust more bishops and priests, but I cannot. I am forced to apply the litmus test to their teachings: Do they agree with the Magisterium? Do they agree with the Holy Father in matters of faith and morals?

    It's a hard way to live, but it makes one more aware of what the faith means. By keeping the masses fat and ignorant, our bishops have forced a core remnant to be more steadfast and more educated.

  9. I am reading a biography of St. Thomas More to my children. Here is a quote from the section I read this evening. It is from the part of Thomas' life when he was discerning a vocation to the priesthood. His friend tells him, "It isn't even as though the clergy were any inspiration to you. Nowadays, they lead wickeder lives than all the ordinary people put together! All through Europe it's just the same. Monasteries and convents have become luxurious palaces, and even the bishops think of nothing but getting rich!"
    Thomas' response was that he could be a better priest to make up for the bad ones but we know that instead, he married, eventually became Chancellor of England and lost his head for not following Henry VIII's lead in disobeying the pope. Not many priests or bishops went to the executioner's block with him.
    These days as in those, being a good Catholic involves standing as a lone reed. That is sad. It's too bad that the diocese did not back up up Fr. G but that does not in any way mean that he was wrong. Doctrine is not about majority rule and father was answering to a higher authority.

  10. You rejoice and find infinite joy in humiliation of a woman in mourning. You just love to hit that gay people when they're suffering. maybe Father Guarnizo could have spat on the woman's face or better yet at the coffin to show the full disdain and contempt towards her sorrow.

    I wish that when someone you love dies, you will be treated with equal cruelty. This priest is defaminmg Christ with every fibre of his hateful being. As are you. But then wahat can you expect from people who are members and suåpprters of the worlds largest pedophile ring. had Barabara Johnson been in a relationship with a child or better yet, a mafia criminal, she would have been welcomed with open arms.

    I know you're incapable of shame because you have no sense of human decency. Just zealotry and venom.

  11. The lengths the archdiocese will go to to defend the rights of this blatant,public, and in your face scandal is unbelievable, whereas, this faithful priest is being maligned, attacked and misrepresented.
    This makes me sick. Why are the bishops and others in the hierarchy seeking human respect from the Media and the rest of the crowd involved here?
    Carol Shute

  12. Anonymous (March 2), there is no joy in this situation for anyone involved. I've been praying for an outpouring of grace on Barbara Johnson and her "lover" all week.

    As for Fr. Guarnizo, he was not "cruel." If anyone was picking a fight it was she by announcing her sinful lifestyle to him right before the funeral. To what point? Communion is not chips and dip time for socializing. All she had to do was cross her arms for a blessing like one of my nieces did at a funeral the same day.

    As for your ignorant comments about the abuse scandals, most involved homosexuals who should never have been admitted to the priesthood. They weren't pedophiles; they were having relations with adolescent boys. In other words they were "chicken hawks" in the language of the gay community. In view of the fact that most gays are working to lower the age of consent, I'm surprised you don't see those homosexual priests as avant gard heroes working for homosexual liberation.

    And who's taking the opportunity to launch a "hit?" You apparently have no problem with "gay" relationships unless you can use them to slam the Church. As for your well wishes to me personally, I'd rather be publicly challenged for my sins than end up in hell because of silence. Barbara Johnson may one day thank this priest.

    By the way, is your post an example of that famous compassion and tolerance we always hear spoken of from the gay community?

    March 2, 2012 10:26 AM