Who is the priest who denied a lesbian woman Communion?

Last night I got into my car and drove over to St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg. I was looking for The Rev. Marcel Guarnizo. I wanted to ask him why he denied Communion to a lesbian woman at her mother’s funeral.


Barbara Johnson was denied Communion and the priest walked out on her mother's funeral last Saturday after he found out Johnson was a lesbian. (Marvin Joseph/WASHINGTON POST)

I did not find him at the church. A lovely man preparing for a class gave me directions to the rectory, which was just up the road, a house set up on a hill with a three-car garage. I wanted to ask Guarnizo, “Do you regret not offering her Communion? I mean, her mother just died. Why did you do this?”

The church’s Web site, after all, mentions a mural “that adorns our sanctuary depicts Christ as the Savior of ALL People. We believe diversity within our Community is a true reflection of Christ’s universal message.”

There were no lights on at the rectory. I rang the front doorbell. No answer. I rang the side doorbell. No answer. I got back in my car. I wondered how old Guarnizo is. I wondered if he was a nice guy. I wondered whether he was a rigid man, or a forgiving one.

I went back to the rectory this afternoon. Pastor Thomas G. LaHood answered the door and said Guarnizo was there, but that the church had no comment beyond what the archdiocese had already said. I kindly requested LaHood ask Guarnizo if he would tell me that himself. LaHood went to ask him and came back to say, "He's not gonna come out to comment."

I found him on YouTube. He seems to be a relatively young. He is thin and well kept and well spoken, and in the video below he took an extremely hardline stand against abortion last year in Germantown at a rally called “2,000 for Life.”

Guarnizo calls a doctor who performs abortions “The Butcher of Germantown.” And he compares the doctor and the act of abortion to the crimes and criminals of Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. It’s a remarkable video, and I urge you to watch it in its entirety.

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Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.
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