Christine Dhanagom

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Exclusive: Inside sources provide new info on priest censured for denying lesbian Communion

Christine Dhanagom
Christine Dhanagom
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(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story identified Barbara Johnson as the partner of Kathleen DeBold and written up in Metro Weekly. A homosexual activist organization contacted LSN to note that it is a different Barbara Johnson identified in the newspaper. We are investigating the matter.)

GAITHERSBURG, MD, March 1, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the wake of international press coverage of a priest’s decision to deny a lesbian communion, and the woman’s subsequent demands that he be removed from the parish, a source close to the incident contacted LifeSiteNews with new information that he says will set the record straight. Among other things, the new information indicates that the woman did actually receive Communion at the Mass – but from an Extraordinary minister rather than the priest.

Fr. Marcel Guarnizo of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, was reprimanded by the Archdiocese of Washington this week after denying communion to Johnson at her mother’s funeral. Johnson had informed the priest before the Mass that she was a lesbian, and was denied communion when she presented herself in line.

In a statement issued last week, the Archdiocese said that Guarnizo’s actions were against diocesan policy, and that “any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.”

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LifeSiteNews spoke today with Diego von Stauffenberg, a source who is close to the incident and who revealed detailed information about the nature of Fr. Guarnizo’s actions at the funeral. According to Stauffenberg the priest was confronted by Johnson for the first time moments before Mass began.

She was reportedly agitated by the fact that the funeral was being presided over by Fr. Guarnizo, who is well known for his outspoken defense of Church teachings. The priest has been on the front lines of local pro-life activism, leading prayer vigils at Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s late term abortion facility in Germantown. 

Johnson initially came into the sacristy to discuss the details of the two eulogies that were supposed to be delivered, but left abruptly and returned with her brother and another woman, whom she introduced as her “lover.”

Following this introduction, Johnson made a second abrupt exit, this time with her lover reportedly blocking the door in an apparent attempt to prevent any further conversation between Fr. Guarnizo and Johnson.

The priest proceeded with the Mass, but decided to remind the congregation before Communion of what is required to be properly disposed to receive. Stauffenberg reports that when Johnson approached for Communion anyway, Fr. Guarnizo turned her away in a manner so discreet that the Extraordinary Minister standing a few feet away did not know what had occurred. Johnson then crossed over to the Extraordinary minister’s line and was given communion.

Moreover, says Stauffenberg, media reports that Fr. Guarnizo refused to be present during Johnson’s eulogy are inaccurate. Johnson had told Channel 9 News that “Fr. Marcel left the altar, and did not return until I finished my eulogy.”

She also told the National Catholic Reporter that Fr. Guarnizo not only did not attend the burial, but also did not make an effort to find another priest to do so, and that it was the funeral director who took the initiative in contacting another priest.

The truth, according to Stauffenberg, is that Fr. Guarnizo suffers from migraines which are triggered by stressful situations. He had a migraine during the funeral, and discreetly left after the first eulogy ended, looking for water to revive himself. When he returned to the sanctuary, Johnson was about five minutes into a eulogy that lasted around fifteen to twenty minutes.

After the Mass was over, he accompanied the body in procession down the aisle and out the door to the hearse, where he informed the funeral director that he would be unable to make the 11 mile drive from the Church to the cemetery on Aspen Hill. He personally arranged for the funeral director to contact another local priest, Fr. Paul Sweeney, who joined the family at the cemetery.

“Mrs. Johnson was given a Catholic funeral with all of the formality and all of the respect that the Catholic Church has to offer,” said Stauffenberg.

Most of the substantial details offered by Stauffenberg have been corroborated by another source who also contacted LifeSiteNews, but who wishes to remain anonymous. In addition, an email circulating in the Diocese which claims to have originated from a group of people who met with Father shortly after the incident says the following:

“Fr knew the lady was a practicing lesbian because she came into the sacristy and introduced her ‘lover’ to Fr just before the Mass.  He quietly denied her communion (so quietly that the Euch minister next to him didn’t realize that he did), and the woman promptly went to the other line and received communion anyway!  He left to use the restroom (he was getting a migraine) between the eulogies, but did finish the ceremony and escorted the casket out.  He made arrangements for there to be another priest at the gravesite and there was. He felt that it was a matter of conscience to deny her communion since he had been informed that she was an active homosexual by her own admission.”

Another statement from the Archdiocese about the incident was published yesterday in the Washington Post. The statement noted that “no one is entitled to the Eucharist,” and that “any person who obstinately perseveres in manifest grave sin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

The statement also said that situations which called for denial of communion “ideally” would be handled by “discussing the consequences of such sin with the person privately before actually denying them Communion.”

Contact:

To email the Archdiocese: chancery@adw.org.
Communication should be directed to Bishop Barry Knestout.

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The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision was nearly two months ago, but the issue as hot as ever, as was demonstrated yesterday when Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-FL, urged constituents to boycott a Hobby Lobby store in her district.

In a press conference one lot away from the Hobby Lobby location in Davie, which opened in April, Wasserman-Schultz said that she wanted "people to know that this Hobby Lobby is here and they should vote with their purses and their pocketbooks, and women should not shop here."

"If you didn’t know this Hobby Lobby was here before, know it now and don’t shop here. They don’t deserve women’s business because they are the ones that all across the country have made it harder for women to get access to birth control,” she said.

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Wasserman-Schultz said that Hobby Lobby's corporate ownership "doesn’t support its employees" and "wants to be able to get in the personal business of their employees and make health care decisions and replace their own values, replace their employees’ health care decisions, with their values…."

She also criticized the Supreme Court's late June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, which had sued the federal government over the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, say it violates their conscience to pay for coverage for the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients that the mandate required them to cover.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was not only disappointing, it was dangerous," said the Democrat. "No boss should have the right to dictate and employee’s health decisions because [they] don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices or pharmacies of their employees.

"A woman and her doctor know what’s best for their body. Not an insurance company. Not a politician. And certainly not a manager at a Hobby Lobby."

The Supreme Court's decision allowed closely held corporations to not fund coverage of contraception or abortion drugs and devices.

Wasserman-Schultz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Through a spokesperson, the Green family declined to comment about the Congresswoman's statements. 

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America is rejecting abortion because pro-lifers are having more children: study

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According to a new Northwestern University study, American attitudes about abortion are trending more conservatively than other contentious social issues, a phenomenon the authors credit to the simple fact that pro-lifers have more kids.

“We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes,” the authors wrote. Using GSS data collected between 1977 and 2010, “We test[ed] the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population.”

The authors wrote: “Support for abortion rights has turned flat after a period of increase following Roe v. Wade, and in recent years there are even indications of a reversal toward more restrictive attitudes. This U-turn is evinced particularly among younger cohorts, and is happening despite liberalizing trends in several ostensibly related issue domains.”

The authors speculated that the reason for the increase in pro-life attitudes among young people is that their parents had more children than their pro-abortion counterparts. When they examined the data, they found that pro-life individuals had, on average, 27 percent more children than those who considered themselves “pro-choice.”

Not only that, but pro-life parents appear to be much more likely to pass their views on to their children. The researchers found that the younger generation’s pro-life shift was too strong to be blamed solely on differences in fertility – meaning children of pro-abortion parents are rejecting their parents’ views.

“[E]ither pro-life beliefs are always more faithfully transmitted than pro-choice ones; or, there has been a cultural shift towards more pro-life beliefs that is being reflected in the parent-child correlations,” the authors wrote.

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“Taken together, these findings suggest that fertility has had at least some part in leading the population in a more pro-life direction over time,” the authors wrote. “Further investigation into this pattern indicates that not only are abortion attitudes associated with fertility, but in proportional terms—which is what matters for cultural change—the gap is widening.”

“Fertility has declined for both pro-choice and pro-life groups over the past 30 years, but fertility has declined far less markedly for pro-life individuals,” they added. “Whereas pro-[life] individuals born before 1940 were only having about 1.2 children per one child born to a pro-choice parent, this ratio has grown to over 1.5 for those born in the mid to late 1970s. This pattern suggests that future cohorts may place an even stronger demographic drag on the liberalization of abortion attitudes.”

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A declaration that PP is an 'enemy of the Church' would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication. American Life League
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New campaign asks Pope Francis to declare Planned Parenthood an ‘enemy of the Church’

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The Catholic pro-life organization American Life League (ALL) is launching a campaign calling for the Catholic Church to declare Planned Parenthood an “enemy of the Church.”

Using prayer and education, ALL’s Defend the Family campaign seeks to expose the nation’s largest abortion provider for contribution to the destruction of human lives, as well as the family. 

The campaign, said Jim Sedlack, vice-president of ALL, is quite simply “a way of calling attention to the fact that this is a very bad organization.”

“Planned Parenthood is attacking the family, either by killing preborn children or by robbing the souls of the older children,” he said. 

A declaration that PP is an “enemy of the Church” would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication.

Such a declaration would not be unprecedented. Popes in the past have identified and condemned organizations that posed a grave threat to the Church, most recently Pope Pius XII in 1949 with Communism and Pope Clement XII in 1738 with Freemasonry.

While specifics would depend on the wording of the Papal pronouncement, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews if the Holy Father makes the declaration there would be no mistaking its intent.

“When the pope makes the declaration it becomes crystal clear,” Sedlak said. “There’ll be no shades of gray, it’ll be black and white, it’ll be clear to the world.”

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'Now is the time'

There are still people who are not fully aware of the extent of the societal damage inflicted by Planned Parenthood, said Sedlak, including members of the Church hierarchy. He said it’s important to emphasize the truth of what the abortion giant does.

“That’s why we’re focusing on the enemy,” said Sedlak. “When people really stop and focus on Planned Parenthood, they realize it’s the enemy.”

ALL cites Planned Parenthood’s targeting of children to sexualize them as a major cause of the destruction of the family and a fundamental reason for the Defend the Family campaign.

“They really push for getting young people into lives of sexual sin,” Sedlak said. “Young people who aren’t pulled into sexual activity do not provide a cent of income to Planned Parenthood, but young people who are pulled in provide millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood empire.”

ALL compiled a comprehensive report on Planned Parenthood titled, “The Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood,” as part of the Defend the Family campaign.

“The document builds the case,” said Sedlak. “Why Planned Parenthood, why now is the time.”

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that for its part Planned Parenthood has always recognized that its greatest enemy is the Catholic Church, even working to have the Church lose its status at the UN.

“They fight anybody who wants to take sex away from the kids in any way possible,” Sedlak said. “That’s one reason why Planned Parenthood is the sex mafia.”

And when Sedlak uses the term “mafia,” he means it literally, pointing out that the Holy Father condemned the mafia in his June 21, 2014, homily in Calabria, Italy, denouncing its, “Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Planned Parenthood kills far more people than the mafia,” Sedlak said.

Also underscoring the need for the Vatican to act on declaring Planned Parenthood an enemy of the Church, is the convening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October in Rome, which will lead into the general synod in 2015.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that these, along with the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, are events that ALL will rally around to raise awareness of the Defend the Family campaign.

Preliminary response to the campaign has been very positive, he said.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that the “Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood” report was so well received upon initial presentation to Vatican officials, that ALL was asked to translate it into three more languages.

“The support we’ve gotten from talking to bishops has been overwhelming,” Sedlak said.

Prayer is priority #1

The Defend the Family campaign consists first and foremost of prayer, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.

“Our approach is that we need prayer support,” he said. “The only way that we’re going to succeed is through prayer to the Blessed Mother; the only way it will succeed is if God wants it to succeed.”

Participants are asked to say regular prayers after Mass, to offer prayers for the pope and to initiate communication with local bishops about the dangers that Planned Parenthood poses to the faithful.

Sedlak also added that The Defend the Family campaign is for everyone, not just Catholics.

He said pro-life supporters of all faith traditions are invited to contact ALL for assistance in encouraging their religious denomination or church leader to declare Planned Parenthood an enemy.

In addition to prayers for the campaign, ALL is asking people to sign and submit ALL’s Declaration of Encouragement to the Holy Father, enroll in the Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father and to share ALL resources on Planned Parenthood.

Information, links and resources are available on the campaign website, defendthefamily.org.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that ALL is giving the success of the Defend the Family campaign up to God.

“This is all happening in God’s time, and so far he’s been blessing us mightily,” Sedlak said. “And we’re going to go wherever God takes us.”

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