GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND, March 8, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The lesbian who is attempting to get a Catholic priest removed from his parish for denying her Holy Communion at her mother’s funeral is a Buddhist who describes herself as a “naturally born agitator” committed to a “culture war.”
Barbara Johnson created a national feeding frenzy after alerting the media that Fr. Marcel Guarnizo had refused to give her the Eucharist because she is a sexually active homosexual.
On February 26, Fr. Marcel Guarnizo of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, covered the ciborium containing the Host as Johnson approached and whispered, “I can’t give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the Church, that is a sin.”
In the ensuing national media coverage, Johnson was repeatedly painted as the victim of prejudice, while the priest was lambasted as a bigot, even being censured by his own diocese.
But in the days following the incident, new information has emerged about the woman at the center of the controversy that raises questions about why she presented herself for Communion in the first place. The priest had publicly explained the conditions for receiving Communion during the funeral mass.
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Johnson published a paper on Academia.edu entitled “Coming Out in the Heteronormative and Homophobic World of Education” that discussed her sexual and religion identification.
When taking a job as an art teacher in a Catholic high school, she wrote, “I felt I couldn’t allow myself to be put into a position to be closeted, even for a few months,” because doing so would leave her “feeling invisible and unworthy of knowing.”
“So in my interview with the principal we talked openly about my being a lesbian and a Buddhist.”
In a second paper she wrote, “As a Buddhist, my role model of an enlightened, highly realized, and happy human being is Gautama Buddha.”
Under canon law, only Roman Catholics are permitted to receive the Eucharist at a Catholic Mass.
In her paper about her experiences in Catholic education, Johnson portrays herself as committed to a “culture war,” insisting it is “important to note the place in which the issue exists in our society, a place of deep and historically violent conflict – war…Ironically, the group who most often portray LGBT people as a menace is the same group responsible for ‘virtually all rape, assault, murder, theft, child abuse, spouse abuse, and war.’”
She complained that her principal told her, “I’m no bigot” but warned her that some Catholic school parents object to teachers discussing their homosexual sex lives in class.
“I was forewarned, and now any problems I might have would surely be of my own making, and most likely, in need of my own solutions,” she wrote. “The decision was mine to make, and I made it with all the zeal and enthusiasm of any naturally born agitator who every now and again enjoys challenging the status quo. And how could I not take this opportunity to challenge this status quo where our laws ‘facilitate and nurture an educational system where schools are able to use tax money [or in this case government voucher money] to speak about respect while modeling bigotry’?”
In her paper, posted online “about a year ago” as a graduate student at Kutztown University, Johnson quoted John Howard Griffin’s statement that he wrote Black Like Me to show “the white majority how a small but powerful group of whites viciously oppressed blacks [while] well-meaning whites looked the other way.” She asked, “Isn’t it time the well-meaning heterosexual majority looked this issue straight in the eye?”
She went on to liken societal “heterosexism” to the Jewish blood libel and the lynching of blacks, and hoped her words would “propel all educators out of our comfort zones and into action.”
Decrying “the false sexual binaries of mascule/feminine and heterosexual/homosexual,” she wrote LGBT people must be “embraced as part of a new, more expansive definition of normal.”
“The next step must be for the public school system” to “celebrate both LGBT faculty and students for the unique perspectives and experiences we can provide the greater school community,” she wrote.
Johnson says she facilitated this celebration in her career by teaching “a project based on Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party,” which is “based on tikkun olam...the Jewish concept behind much of Chicago’s work.” Students were asked to discuss “discrimination,” then create art projects, displayed throughout the school, “to honor…marginalized groups.”
Joshua Bowman, who runs the blog the “Prolix Patriot,” wrote, “a quick glance at the Facebook and Twitter pages of [Johnson’s] art school (for children!) reveals a series of pro-abortion and pro-[gay] links which are clearly and explicitly at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Canon 915 of the Roman Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law states those who are “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” However, canon lawyers disagree about how much interaction is necessary before a priest may deny someone Communion in practice.
A source close to the incident, Diego von Stauffenberg, told LifeSiteNews.com exclusively that Johnson introduced herself and her “lover” to Fr. Guarnizo before the ceremony. She then reportedly stormed out, with her lesbian partner blocking the door. After being denied the Eucharist by Fr. Guarnizo, Johnson went into another line and received Holy Communion from an Extraordinary Minister.
Von Stauffenberg’s account calls several aspects of Johnson’s story into question.
After the ceremony, Johnson wrote a complaint, leading to Archdiocese of Washington Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout penning a formal letter of apology blasting Fr. Guarnizo’s “lack of pastoral sensitivity.”
Popular Catholic clogger Thomas Peters writes at CatholicVote.org that, in light of Johnson’s history of activism, the entire ordeal constitutes “a blatantly political attempt by Johnson to generate sympathy and support for gay marriage and to foment public judgment against the Church.”
“The liberal narrative is that the Catholic Church is oppressing women,” Bowman wrote at Prolix Patriot, “but the truth is that radical liberals who do not believe in the Church’s teachings are manufacturing controversy with the help of manipulative media elites.”
To email the Archdiocese: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communication should be directed to Bishop Barry Knestout.