Father Marcel Guarnizo isn't taking his suspension sitting down. The embattled priest, who's been criticized for denying a lesbian communion at her mother's funeral, released a statement on CNS News today defending himself and blasting the archdiocese for suspending him. He says Barbara Johnson revealed her sexuality to him "minutes before mass," making him "obligated" to withhold communion. "Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbiter of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church."
In Guarnizo's telling, he withheld the sacrament quietly and discreetly. "There was no scandal, no 'public reprimand.'" He also said that, contrary to the official statement, his suspension had "everything to do with the Eucharist incident." The statement outraged Johnson's family. "I thought he was a reprehensible person, and he's certainly confirmed it," Barbara's brother Larry tells the Washington Post, objecting to Guarnizo's tone and characterization of the incident. "I witnessed the coldness of this man, the arrogance of this man." (Read more Catholic Church stories.)