D.C. Archdiocese Competes in the Euphemism Olympics

Barbara Johnson is now endeavoring to have Father Marcel Guarnizo removed from his post at St. John Neumann Catholic church. She has good reason: at her mother’s funeral, Fr. Guarnizo denied her Communion because she is a lesbian, and walked out of the funeral while Johnson was delivering a eulogy. The family were left on their own for the burial.

Let’s go over that one more time:

1. Father Guarnizo denied Communion to the deceased woman’s daughter. Because she is a lesbian. He told her in so many words, right up at the altar with everyone watching.

“He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, ‘I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,’ ” she recalled Tuesday.

2. Father Guarnizo abandoned the funeral midway through.

Family members said the priest left the altar while Johnson, 51, was delivering a eulogy and did not attend the burial or find another priest to be there.

This is, to say the very least, profoundly unprofessional behavior for a priest giving a funeral Mass. And how is the Archdiocese handling the matter? Actually not badly, but their language is just fascinating:

Late Tuesday, Johnson received a letter of apology from the Rev. Barry Knestout, one of the archdiocese’s highest-ranking administrators, who said the lack of “kindness” she and her family received “is a cause of great concern and personal regret to me.”

“I am sorry that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life, in light of her faith in Jesus Christ, was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity,” Knestout wrote. “I hope that healing and reconciliation with the Church might be possible for you and any others who were affected by this experience. In the meantime, I will offer Mass for the happy repose of your mother’s soul. May God bring you and your family comfort in your grief and hope in the Resurrection.”

Lack of “kindness”? Cause of “personal regret” to the administrator? Lack of “pastoral sensitivity”?

Archdiocese officials at first issued a short statement saying that the priest’s actions were against “policy” and that they would look into it as a personnel issue.

If Rev. Knestout is offering a redo of the funeral Mass for Barbara Johnson’s mother, that’s a good thing, but this is not merely about a shortage of “kindness” or “sensitivity.” Father Guarnizo tossed a monkey wrench into Mrs. Johnson’s funeral Mass and drove a wrecking ball into an already emotionally raw day for her family. That’s not just a question of “policy.” He was charged with a job and he did something very bad with it. If the D.C. Archdiocese wants to assure its parishioners that this will not be allowed to happen again, it’s quite simple: put Guarnizo out of a job. Tossing a bunch of watery corporate-speak at the Johnsons isn’t fooling anyone.