A priest in the United States who refused to give communion to a
lesbian at her mother's funeral has been suspended.
Rev. Marcel Guarnizo allegedly denied Barbara Johnson the bread
and wine at the 25 February service in the Saint John Neumann
Catholic church, Maryland.
The symbolic gesture is considered an important part of the
Guarnizo reportedly covered the bowl containing the Eucharist and
said: "I cannot give you Communion because you live with a woman,
and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin."
The story made international headlines and has since widened the
debate on homophobia within the church.
Now, The Washington Post reports that he has been put on
In a letter dated 9 March from Bishop Barry Knestout - a top
administrator in the archdiocese - it states that Guarnizo's
suspension was a result of: "Engaging in intimidating behaviour
toward Parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper
The Post reports that Rev. Thomas Lahood, the pastor at St. John
Neumann and Guarnizo's superior, commented that this did not refer
to the incident involving Johnson.