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Maryland Priest Defends Decision To Deny Communion To Lesbian At Funeral

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File photo of a bible. (credit: Eli Meir Kaplan/Getty Images)

File photo of a bible. (credit: Eli Meir Kaplan/Getty Images)

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GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) — A Gaithersburg priest is defending his decision to deny Communion to a woman at a funeral Mass because she is a lesbian. The priest has since been suspended.

In a statement to the conservative website CNSnews.com, the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo said Barbara Johnson introduced another woman as her “lover” during a Feb. 25 funeral for Johnson’s mother. “Openly confessing sin” should be done in a confessional and not before Communion, he said. He said he then quietly withheld Communion.

Guarnizo said that the incident was a “warning” to the church and that he’s confident he did the only thing a “faithful Catholic priest could do.”

In announcing his removal, the Archdiocese of Washington cited allegations that Guarnizo intimidated parish staff. Guarnizo denied that, saying he was removed after trying to obtain written comment about what happened from the funeral director and a parish staff member.

Johnson’s family called Guarnizo’s response “arrogant” and “deceitful.” Johnson said he is politicizing her mother’s death.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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