Friday, March 30, 2012

Stupid Biden Quote

Another classic moment from the highest ranking elected Catholyc, Vice President Joe Biden. (I know I can write a book about his stupid and at times, racist comments. And people talk about Dan Quayle.)


Vice President Joe Biden made yet another gaffe today when he mistakenly called Scott Community College President Dr. Theresa Paper quote "Dr. Pepper."

Fox News March 28, 2012:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Help Defeat Gay Marriage in MD

Citizens of Maryland!

Were you sick and disgusted as the Maryland Assembly and Senate rammed through the bill? Were you sick and disgusted when Gov. O'Malley signed the bill? Do you feel that this really brings Maryland down a step in morals? Then, you have the chance to get this put on the ballot and let the citizens of this state vote.

Get the petition now and sign it!

Go here:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Canonical Defense of Father Marcel Guarnizo

Dear WashingtonDCCatholic,

Below is the contribution of a priest and canonist regarding the situation of Father Marcel Guarnizo. I hope the formatting is suitable. I hope this sheds some light on the issue.

Although the contributor wishes to remain anonymous, would it be possible to post this? If a name is necessary, it is Father Contributor.

Let us all pray for a happy resolution!

Thank you.


Note to my readers: Apologies for the poor formatting. Am having all sorts of trouble w/ Google Blogger.


As a priest and canon lawyer, I'd like in canonical terms, to revisit the controversial events surrounding the denial of Holy Communion to Barbara Johnson by Father Marcel Guarnizo. First of all, while I agree with many of the points by the very well-respected canonist Dr. Ed Peters, I believe that even with the rather limited information currently available, Father Guarnizo very possibly and correctly satisfied the conditions of canon 915 in denying Holy Communion to Barbara Johnson. Secondly, I would like to comment on Father Guarnizo's unjust "administrative leave" in light of the Code of Canon Law.

Part 1 - Canon 915 and Father Guarnizo

The first rule of interpretation in canon law is to read the canon. Canon 915 reads

"Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

As Ed Peters clearly points out, canon 915 lays an obligation on the minister distributing Holy Communion to deny Holy Communion to certain parties. Who are these parties? The first two parties are those who have been excommunicated or interdicted by imposition or declaration. The third party to be denied Holy Communion are those who fulfill all of the following three conditions, i.e., those who

1. Obstinately persist
2. in manifest
3. grave sin.

How is this canon to be interpreted? Ed Peters rightly mentions a general norm:

Can. 18 - "Laws which establish a penalty, restrict the free exercise of rights, or contain an exception from the law are subject to strict interpretation."

as well as canon 912:

Can. 912 - "Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to Holy Communion."

On the other hand, Father William Byrne, Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns, in the Archdiocese of Washington's
press release, states,

"We should receive Jesus with the intention of becoming more like Him. No one is entitled to the Eucharist. It is a free gift and should be received with humility and reverence."

Ed Peters is again correct to say that the burden lies upon Father Guarnizo to prove he satisfied the requirements of canon 915. On the other hand, canon 915 lays a grave obligation on the minister of Holy Communion to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege and to prevent scandal. It goes without saying that the minister who violates canon 915 should be justly punished.

Ed Peters summarily explains why Father Guarnizo does not fufill the conditions of canon 915:

"Guarnizo did not know, and could not have verified, whether Johnson’s sin (speaking objectively), which could be grave (a conclusion I think a Catholic could reach based on the words used here) was also manifest, as well as obstinate and perseverating (sic). "

This statement raises a question. Given the extremely limited information we currently have from a variety of sources, how exactly does Ed Peters judge that Father "Guarnizo did not know, and could not have verified" Barbara Johnson was not a manifest, grave sinner? It is safe to assume that Ed Peters was not present at the chapel for the funeral, nor was he in the sacristy, nor does he have knowledge of who or how many persons witnessed the conversation that took place between Father Guarnizo and Barbara Johnson.

Ed Peters goes on to quote a number of very reputable and traditional Catholic moralists and manualists who express in various terms the meaning of canon 915. Let's look carefully at canon 915. Here's the canon again.

Canon 915 - "Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

What is the purpose of canon 915? Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the highest tribunal in the Church) answers this question in a
paper regarding the liciety of admitting pro-abortion politicians to Holy Communion in light of canon 915. (For those who haven't read the paper, the quick answer is "no".) Cardinal Burke states that Canon 915 exists primarily to prevent sacrilege while at the same time preventing our Greatest Good from being violated. His Eminence also remarked in the Jesuit periodical America Magazine that,

"Canon 915 deals with the state of someone who persists in an open, serious moral violation and so has gravely sinned. This means you can't receive Communion, but it is not saying you are excommunicated. It's just saying you have broken, in a very serious way, your communion with God and with the Church and therefore are not able to receive Holy Communion."

The same point is implied in St. Paul's scolding of the Corinthian Christians during Mass:

"For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord."

The minister who applies canon 915 actually does the sinner a great service in charity by preventing him from committing another grave sin.

The secondary purpose of canon 915 is the prevention of scandal. What is scandal? Cardinal Burke says:

“The first and properly theological meaning of scandal is to do or omit something which leads others into error or sin. The second meaning is to do or omit something which causes wonderment (admiratio) in others. Denying Holy Communion publicly to the occult sinner involves scandal in the second sense. Giving Holy Communion to the obstinately serious and public sinner involves scandal in the first sense."

In his Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas Aquinas says that although there is a need for the minister distributing Holy Communion to protect the good name of the hidden sinner, there is also an obligation to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege by a public sinner.

Since Barbara Johnson doesn't fall into the first two categories of canon 915, let's see she if she fulfills the following three conditions for the last category of persons, i.e., those who

1. Obstinately persist
2. in manifest
3. grave sin.

1. Obstinately persist

What does it mean to "obstinately persist"?

The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (PCLT), the department of the Vatican whose job it is to interpret authentically both universal and particular laws in the Church, states that this phrase "
obstinate persistence" is

"the existence of an objective situation of sin that endures in time and which the will of the individual member of the faithful does not bring to an end, no other requirements (attitude of defiance, prior warning, etc.) being necessary to establish the fundamental gravity of "the situation in the Church."

"Obstinate persistence" denotes an objective (not subjective) state. Although commonly misunderstood, it is not necessary that warnings be issued in order to judge "obstinate persistence".

Before the funeral Mass, Barbara Johnson declared her homosexual status by introducing her lesbian lover to Father Guarnizo. What was the purpose of this action? We now know, from media reports, that Barbara has been with her partner for 20 years.

We also know that Barbara Johnson walked out of the sacristy while her lover blocked the doorway.

2. "Manifest"

What does "manifest" mean?

Among the leading canon lawyers currently living in North America is Professor John Huels at St. Paul's University. In his 1985 commentary on canon 915, Professor Huels writes that

"a manifest sin is one which is publicly known, even if only by a few."

Although tempting, it is not possible completely to equate the term “manifest” with the term “public”, since, in the 1917 Code these two adjectives are used to describe those who are not allowed a Catholic funeral. (1917 Code of Canon Law, c. 1240. Alii peccatores publici et manifesti [Other public and manifest sinners])If “manifest” were exactly the same as“public”, why would the legislator have used both terms?“ Manifest” can also refer to the fact that certain moral actions by their very essence are always immoral and are objectively wrong.For example, we say that it is“manifest” or clear, i.e., there is no doubt, that a certain moral action is definitely wrong.The term “manifest”would certainly in its definition, a politician who is actively attempting to pass legislation to facilitate direct abortions. Understandably there is overlapping in meaning but the the term "public" can mean "that which is provable in the external forum."

The Jesuit theologian Father Davis, in his classic Moral and Pastoral Theology published in 1938, declared that

“He is, relatively speaking, a public sinner, if he is known to be such by those who observe that he asks for the Sacraments. He is said to ask for them publicly, if he does so, in the presence of any others, many or few, who would recognize him as a public sinner.”

The ancient Rituale Romanum stated:

"All the faithful are to be admitted to Holy Communion, except those who are prohibited for a just reason. The publicly unworthy, which are the excommunicated, those under interdict, and the manifestly infamous, such as prostitutes, those cohabiting, usurers, sorcerers, fortune-tellers, blasphemers and other sinners of the public kind, are, however, to be prevented, unless their penitence and amendment has been established and they will have repaired the public scandal."

Furthermore, as Cardinal Burke mentions in his commentary on canon 915,

“Regarding the denial of Holy Communion, the [1720 Ruthenian] Synod made its own the perennial discipline of the Church:

“Heretics, schismatics, the excommunicated, the interdicted, public criminals, the openly infamous, as also prostitutes, the publicly cohabiting, major usurers, fortune-tellers, and other evil-doing men of the same kind, however, are not to be admitted to the reception of this Sacrament, according to the precept of Christ: 'Do not give the Holy to dogs'. "

A notorious act here means an act that cannot be concealed.

The well-respected Father William Woestman adds that,

"the public reception of Communion by a public sinner implies that the Church and her ministers somehow condone the public serious sin."

An author that Ed Peters is familiar with and recommends is the Dominican Father Halligan. Father Halligan, in Administration of the Sacraments, states that a crime

"is public, if it is already divulged or is so situated that it may and must be concluded that it will easily become commonly known."

Who else was present in the sacristy on the day of Barbara Johnson's mother's funeral? Who else could have heard the conversation that took place between Father Guarnizo and Barbara Johnson? Usually before a liturgical ceremony such as a funeral, a number persons can be present in the sacristy (e.g., altar servers, schola members, members of the recently deceased, the parish secretary, etc.). In addition, reasonableness is assumed in law. Is it not reasonable that the community, largely made up of Barbara Johnson's family, knew of her lesbian relationship before the funeral if not at least at the funeral? At family gatherings like funerals or weddings, people "catch up" and learn how everyone and everything has been going since the last funeral or wedding. People find out family news. Even strangers discover a little bit about who's related to whom and so on. Is it not very reasonable that more than a few people present in that church building knew about the lesbian relationship between Barbara Johnson and her lover? Every human being lives in a community. What about the community of which Barbara Johnson is a member and amongst whom she lives? Are they supposed to assume that Barbara Johnson received Holy Communion just like everybody else? Doesn't this create scandal in Cardinal Burke's first sense where the faithful are led into error about who is worthy to receive Holy Communion?

An unnamed source present at the funeral mentioned that most of the congregation was mysteriously not made up of those around the age of the recently deceased mother but were more around the age of Barbara Johnson. An unusually small percentage of people came up to receive Holy Communion. If these were friends of Barbara Johnson, what about the possible scandal that could have taken place if Father Gaurnizo had given her Holy Communion? This witness is confident that the vast majority of the persons present for the funeral knew about the lesbian "lifestyle" of Barbara Johnson.

3. Grave sin.

Regarding "Grave Sin", the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts declares that this is

"understood objectively, being that the minister of Communion would not be able to judge from subjective imputability."

Now that we've walked through a working description of the phrase in canon 915 asserting that those who "obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion," what is a concrete example of people who fall into this category? The answer is given to us by Blessed Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic Catechism and again, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.
Blessed John Paul II in Familaris Consortio in 1982:

“The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted hereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict the union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is a another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage."

Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1991:

"As far as the internal forum solution is concerned as a means of resolving the question of the validity of a prior marriage, the magisterium has not sanctioned its use for a number of reasons, among which is the inherent contradiction of resolving something in the internal forum which by its nature also pertains to and has such important consequences for the external forum."

Catechism of the Catholic Church, numbers 1650-1651:

"If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic Communion as long as this situation persists. "

Pontifical Commission for Legislative Texts in 2000:

"In effect, the reception of the Body of Christ when one is publicly unworthy constitutes an objective harm to the ecclesial communion: it is a behavior that affects the rights of the Church and of all the faithful to live in accord with the exigencies of that communion. In the concrete case of the admission to Holy Communion of faithful who are divorced and remarried, the scandal, understood as an action that prompts others towards wrongdoing, affects at the same time both the sacrament of the Eucharist and the indissolubility of marriage. That scandal exists even if such behavior, unfortunately, no longer arouses surprise: in fact it is precisely with respect to the deformation of the conscience that it becomes more necessary for Pastors to act, with as much patience as firmness, as a protection to the sanctity of the Sacraments and a defense of Christian morality, and for the correct formation of the faithful."

The noted 1917 Code commentar Fr. Lincoln Bouscaren, SJ, in Canon Law Digest (vol. 1, 408-409) also relates the case of

"a woman that was living in open concubinage with a relative, went to confession to a missionary, and was admitted by him to Holy Communion. The pastor of the church questioned the propriety of this course of action on the part of the missionary, and referred the matter to the Ordinary of the place. The latter forbade the admission of the woman to Holy Communion until she should have separated from the man with whom she was living. From this decree, the missionary had recourse tot he Sacred Congregation of the Council.

Question: Whether the decree of the Ordinary is to be obeyed.

Reply: In the affirmative."

Father William Woestman logically concludes that

"the same principles apply to everyone whose habitual lifestyle is manifestly gravely sinful, e.g., the unmarried "living together," homosexuals or lesbians in a public relationship, those actively participating in the performance of abortions, drug traffickers, gang members."

We can see that Ed Peters clearly contradicts the point reinterated by Father Woestmann:

"I think that withholding Holy Communion from those divorced and remarried outside the Church is an application of Canon 915 (see, e.g., Kelly, in GB&I COMM [1995] 503), but I need not prove that point to show that withholding the Eucharist from divorced-and-remarrieds, that is, those who status is de iure public, is appropriate under, among other things, the 1994 CDF Letter on Communion for Divorced and Remarried Catholics, n. 6. Of course, as Johnson is apparently not divorced and remarried outside the Church, and because Guarnizo did not suspect her of being so, his implicit appeal to the CDF letter and/or c. 915, fails in law and in fact."

Objectively, homosexuality is graver than adultery. I don't understand why Dr. Peters says that it is licit to use canon 915 to deny Holy Communion to those who are divorced and have remarried but it is not licit to use canon 915 for a lesbian in a homosexual relationship.

Up to this point, we've applied our attention to law relevant to the particular situation of Baabara Johnson. Now we ask, what should be done practically in a concrete situation?

The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts again provides the answer.

"Naturally, pastoral prudence would strongly suggest the avoidance of instances of public denial of Holy Communion. Pastors must strive to explain to the concerned faithful the true ecclesial sense of the norm, in such a way that they would be able to understand it or at least respect it. In those situations, however, in which these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible, the minister of Communion must refuse to distribute it to those who are publicly unworthy. They are to do this with extreme charity, and are to look for the opportune moment to explain the reasons that required the refusal. They must, however, do this with firmness, conscious of the value that such signs of strength have for the good of the Church and of souls."

"The discernment of cases in which the faithful who find themselves in the described condition are to be excluded from Eucharistic Communion is the responsibility of the Priest who is responsible for the community."

We know that Father Guarnizo did not make the funeral arrangments for Barbara Johnson's mother. We also know that after hearing confessions from 930-1020am, Father Guarnizo wanted to speak with Barbara before the 1030am funeral Mass but was blocked by Barbara Johnson's lover. We also know that Father Guarnizo's action to deny Holy Communion to Barbara Johnson was extremely discreet.

Part 2 - "Administrative Leave" and Father Guarnizo

Regarding the "administrative leave" and the loss of his priestly faculties in the diocese of Washington, DC, Father Guarnizo says

"I would only add for the record, that the letter removing me from pastoral work in the Archdiocese of Washington, was already signed and sealed and on the table when I met with Bishop Knestout on March 9, even before he asked me the first question about the alleged clash."

The major question in this matter is where is the necessary element of due process?

John Beal, a well-known canonist at Catholic University, argues that "administrative leave" can only take place after a formal judicial penal process has been initiated, and not during the information-collecting preliminary investigation. This assumes that the prelimary investagtion of canon 1720 was actually carried out. Thus, the Ordinary should have decreed that the acts of the investigation be handed over to the Promoter of Justice who then presents the libellus (petition of accusation) to the judge. Canons 1720, 1721 and 1722 need to be applied.

Can. 1720 "If the ordinary thinks that the matter must proceed by way of extrajudicial decree:

1º he is to inform the accused of the accusation and the proofs, giving an opportunity for self-defense, unless the accused neglected to appear after being properly summoned;

2º he is to weigh carefully all the proofs and arguments with two assessors;

3º if the delict is certainly established and a criminal action is not extinguished, he is to issue a decree according to the norm of cann. 1342–1350, setting forth the reasons in law and in fact at least briefly."

Can. 1721 "§1. If the ordinary has decreed that a judicial penal process must be initiated, he is to hand over the acts of the investigation to the promoter of justice who is to present a libellus of accusation to the judge according to the norm of cann. 1502 and 1504.
§2. The promoter of justice appointed to the higher tribunal acts as the petitioner before that tribunal."

Can. 1722 "To prevent scandals, to protect the freedom of witnesses, and to guard the course of justice, the ordinary, after having heard the promoter of justice and cited the accused, at any stage of the process can exclude the accused from the sacred ministry or from some office and ecclesiastical function, can impose or forbid residence in some place or territory, or even can prohibit public participation in the Most Holy Eucharist. Once the cause ceases, all these measures must be revoked; they also end by the law itself when the penal process ceases."

According to
Father Guarnizo's report, the legal measures demanded by canons 1721 and 1722 were simply not applied:

"The letter removing me from pastoral work in the Archdiocese of Washington, was already signed and sealed and on the table when I met with Bishop Knestout on March 9, even before he asked me the first question about the alleged clash."

Where is the right of defense for Father Gaurnizo? Did the Ordinary initiate an administrative process or a judicial penal process with a decree of judicial weight? What about the libellus, the formal petition of accusation? Where is the promotor of justice to ensure that the proper juridical motions are taken at each step of the trial? Where is due process?

In short, I respectfully but substantially disagree with Ed Peters' view of Father Guarnizo's alleged violation canon 915 based on the arguments offered above. In addition, the misfortune of the the loss of faculties that Father Guarnizo has suffered has seemingly come about without due canonical process. Furthermore, why did the diocese not mention canon 916, which reminds the faithful of the obligation to receive the Eucharist worthily in their letter of apology to Barbara Johnson? Although any information whatsoever about the entire situation is at a premium, it seems like the Diocese of Washington, DC is more willing, at least externally, to place its trust in somebody who (although canonically is not Buddhist as Ed Peters rightly points out) professes to be a Buddhist, has illegally attempted marriage with her lesbian partner, and was a speaker on March 17th at a national conference for gays and lesbians. Finally, is Father Guarnizo guilty until proven innocent?

I'm making these points in order to highlight every priest's obligation to safeguard the Holy Eucharist and to highlight that every priest accused of wrongdoing should receive a right of defense in a just trial.

In defense of Fr. Marcel

Our colleague over at Restore DC Catholicism has posted a number of good articles regarding the defense of Fr. Marcel by Canon lawyers.

One of the first that I came across, which my colleague did not cite (and thru no fault of her own) was on the Deacon's Bench, from a commentator by the name of DB. For example:

Dr. Peters writes: “Guarnizo admits that he only met Johnson a few minutes before her mother’s funeral Mass, admits that he had no knowledge whatsoever about the Johnson family, and offers no indication that he knew anything about the congregation gathered for Mass that day.”Comment: Whoa, Nellie! Dr. Peters’ statements bear the marks of classic red herrings in that the essence of the matter is not based on knowledge of the family or the congregation, so this is a gratuitous attack on Fr. Guarnizo, and it is largely off point. Even if Fr. Guarnizo did have some knowledge, what would constitute sufficient knowledge to satisfy the bogus standard that Dr. Peters is hinting at via the red herring statements? Moreover, Fr. Guarnizo’s statement reveals that he was scheduled to hear confessions from 9:30 to 10:20. Did he hear any? If he did, even with the seal of confession that prevents him from making known anything heard, he MAY HAVE NEVERTHELESS LEARNED QUITE A BIT…PERHAPS EVEN ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE, but we don’t know. We do know that if he did hear confessions, it is obvious that he would have learned something about some people in the congregation if that is important even in the least, which doesn’t seem likely except perhaps from a humanistic approach to things.In any case, Dr. Peters’ assertion is false and should be retracted. Let’s just say I am simply correcting Dr. Peters, because he needs to be corrected.

For more, go here:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Help Defeat Gay Marriage in Maryland! Sign the Petition

Were you sick and disgusted as the Maryland Assembly and Senate rammed through the bill? Were you sick and disgusted when Gov. O'Malley signed the bill? Do you feel that this really brings Maryland down a step in morals? Then, you have the chance to get this put on the ballot and let the citizens of this state vote.

Get the petition now and sign it! Go here:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy St. Joseph's Day

As I go by the name "Joe WashingtonDCCatholic" on Facebook (which of course, is not my name), I thought it would be most appropriate to wish everyone a very happy and blessed Feast Day of St. Joseph.

As the patron saint of workers, I ask today that he watches over all those who labor and ensures that they return to their families safe and sound.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Today's Wash comPost - Two Unusual Catholics

Today's Washington comPost (by Michelle Boorstein) runs a story called: 2 unusual Catholics spark firestorm.

Now, you can read it as well as I can, but I want to point out a couple of things that struck me from the story:

1. "2 unusual Catholics" First, many of us, even though Canon Law may indicate she is legally a Catholic, do not consider Barbara Johnson "Catholic." There will be those of you who say that is not for you to determine. Okay, fine. But I am not living in an active lesbian relationship, according to Buddhist teachings. She has done this for a number of years. I think that this is persistent and really puts her outside of being a faithful Catholic.

2. Just because Barbara Johnson received Holy Communion once before in 2008, does not mean she she has the right to receive it again. That is not how it works Ms. Boorstein and Ms. Johnson.

3. Regarding the comment from Fr. Reese on Fr. Marcel. I think we should send Fr. Reese to Moscow and keep Fr. Marcel. (See the poll on the side.)

4. Finally, and I think that this is the most telling line in the story. Remember, Barbara Johnson's own words in her paper at Kutztown College (that she was a lesbian and Buddhist):

"Johnson had returned to her alma mater, Elizabeth Ann Seaton High School to teach art, a move she said was part of a process of coming back to Catholicism ON HER OWN TERMS." (my caps)

Notice here what we have:

A. That she is willing to lie about her life to make her the victim; and,

B. She wants to be a part of Catholicism on her own terms and not that of the Church. Sorry, Ms. Johnson, it does not work that way.

Here is the full article:

PS: Did you notice that Barbara Johnson sat right behind Gov. O'Malley (a Gonzaga HS graduate) promoting and celebrating same-sex marriage. What an insult to Catholicism it is by both of them.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stupid Biden Quote

These guys don’t have a sense of the average folks out there,” Biden said according to the pool report, “They don’t know what it means to be middle class.”

This as he addressed 87 wealthy Democrats attending a fundraiser at the home of Sen. John Kerry in Georgetown on March 12, 2012. As they dined on grass-fed New York strip steaks and white truffle mashed potatos underneath a outdoor tent, Biden criticized Republicans for being out of touch.

For the story: go here:

Stupid Biden Quotes

Once again, I bring you some words of wisdom from Vice President Joe Biden, the highest ranking elected Catholyc in the nation.

"A successful dump!" --Joe Biden, explaining his whereabouts (dropping deadwood at the dump) to the reporters outside his home, Wilmington, Del., Aug. 20, 2008

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Laetare Sunday: Solemn Evensong and Benediction at St. Rita's

Alexandria, Va. (March 1, 2012)— On Sunday, March 18, the Institute of Catholic Culture in conjunction with Reverend Eric Bergman and the Saint Thomas of Canterbury Choir presents a holy celebration of Laetare Sunday at St. Rita Catholic Church in Alexandria. Celebrated on the Sunday midway through Lent, Laetare Sunday is a day of joy spent in anticipation of the rejoicing of Easter. In Christian history, as this special Sunday ended at sunset, Christians would gather in prayer to thank God for the gift of Easter.

Join the Institute of Catholic Culture and the Saint Thomas of Canterbury Society as we experience the ancient Lenten service of Vespers in the English Catholic tradition. The service begins at 7:30 p.m. Free admission, and no reservations required. St. Rita Catholic Church, 3815 Russell Rd., Alexandria, Va.

For more information, please visit or call 540-635-7155.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fr. Marcel Tells His Side of the Story

Here are the facts: On Saturday February 25th I showed up to officiate at a funeral Mass for Mrs. Loetta Johnson. The arrangements for the Mass were also not my own. I wish to clarify that Ms. Barbara Johnson (the woman who has since complained to the press), has never been a parishioner of mine. In fact I had never met her or her family until that morning.

The funeral celebration was to commence at 10:30a.m. From 9:30 to 10:20, I was assigned to hear confessions for the parish and anyone in the funeral party who would have chosen to receive the sacrament.A few minutes before the Mass began, Ms. Johnson came into the sacristy with another woman whom she announced as her “lover”. Her revelation was completely unsolicited. As I attempted to follow Ms.Johnson, her lover stood in our narrow sacristy physically blocking my pathway to the door. I politely asked her to move and she refused.

I understand and agree it is the policy of the Archdiocese to assume good faith when a Catholic presents himself for communion; like most priests I am not at all eager to withhold communion. But the ideal cannot always be achieved in life.
In the past ten days, many Catholics have referenced canon 915 in regard to this specific circumstance. There are other reasons for denying communion which neither meet the threshold of canon 915 or have any explicit connection to the discipline stated in that canon.

If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion. If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either. If a Catholic, divorced and remarried (without an annulment) would make that known in my sacristy, they too according to Catholic doctrine, would be impeded from receiving communion. This has nothing to do with canon 915. Ms. Johnson’s circumstances are precisely one of those relations which impede her access to communion according to Catholic teaching. Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church.

In all of the above circumstances, I would have been placed in a similar uncomfortable position. Under these circumstances, I quietly withheld communion, so quietly that even the Eucharistic Minister standing four feet from me was not aware I had done so. (In fact Ms. Johnson promptly chose to go to the Eucharistic minister to receive communion and did so.) There was no scandal, no “public reprimand” and no small lecture as some have reported.
Details matter. Ms. Johnson was not kneeling when she approached for communion, she did not receive the cup as the press has reported she has stated. It is the policy of St. John Neumann parish never to distribute under both species during funerals.

During the two eulogies (nearly 25 minutes long), I quietly slipped for some minutes into the sacristy lavatory to recover from the migraine that was coming on. I never walked out on Mrs. Loetta Johnson’s funeral and the liturgy was carried out with the same reverence and care that I celebrate every Mass. I finished the Mass and accompanied the body of the deceased in formal procession to the hearse, which was headed to the cemetery. I am subject to occasional severe migraines, and because the pain at that point was becoming disabling, I communicated to our funeral director that I was incapacitated and he arranged one of my brother priests to be present at the cemetery to preside over the rite of burial. Furthermore as the testimony of the priest that was at the cemetery conveys, he was present when the Johnson family arrived, and in fact mentioned that being called to cover the burial rite is quite normal, as many priests for reasons much less significant than mine (rush hour traffic for example) do not make the voyage to the cemetery. He routinely covers for them. This change in plans, was also invisible to the rest of the entourage. Regrets and information about my incapacitating migraine were duly conveyed to the Johnson family.

I have thanked the funeral director and the priest at the burial site, for their assistance that day. Mrs. Loetta Johnson was properly buried with every witness and ceremony a Catholic funeral can offer. I did not and would not refuse to accompany Barbara Johnson and her mother to the cemetery because she is gay or lives with a woman. I did not in any way seek to dishonor Mrs. Johnson's memory, and my homily at the funeral should have made that quite evident to all in the pews, including the Johnson family.

To read the full story, go here:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fr. Marcel Placed on Administrative Leave

Our friend over at Restore DC Catholicism informed me (and it is on her blog) that they have placed Fr. Marcel Guarzino on Administrative Leave.

At this point, I have written this blog posting at least six or seven times but just can't seem to get it right. Nevertheless, here is what I think...

1. The letter by Bishop Knestout says many things, and yet it says very litte. There are accusations (or at least complaints) of intimidating behavior but no one knows what they are. It could be as simple as "Fr. told me to do this in red and that it is the way it is to be done. I think lime green is a much better choice and did not like his style choices. When did the cardinal make him a fashionista?" Or it could be "Fr. told me, in a very stern voice, that I could not do something." We don't know. I would bet that the scent of blood is in the water, and some have decided to take advanage of it.

2. He is placed on admin leave but for all purposes, his priestly faculties have been suspended. He cannot publicly say Mass, Confessions, etc. More than likely, he will be allowed to say it privately, but cannot appear in public, etc. You can slice it any way you want, but that is probably what has happened. I wonder if he is still living in the rectory. Usually, when these things happen, a couple of priests show up at the rectory, tell the priest in question he has 24 hours to pack his stuff and find a new place. Where he goes, they do not care. Just get out.

3. They claim it is a personnel matter. This allows for confidentiality. Can't say anything to anyone, lest we violate Fr. Marcel's privacy. But you know, those who have accused him may come forth to tell their side of the story.

4. From the public relations front, this is a disaster. They may be trying to shield themselves from their own mistakes, but I think that this only makes things worse. The gay and lesbian community will call this a victory.

5. If, Fr. Marcel did what they said he did, when did these accusations appear? Are they new or old? If old (and true -- and we do not know), did the Archdiocese meet and counsel him on what he did or did not do? In other words, did the Archdiocese follow their own public relations statements, as it pertains to a catholic in persistant and public sin, in dealing with a priest who may have not handled things right.

6. Personally, I wonder how the other priests in this Archdiocese feel? I learned of this story late in the afternon, way after Mass, so I did not get a chance to talk to my pastor...but he probably would tell me that he could not speak about it.

7. Were there large numbers of contributors to the Archdiocese who told the Cardinal to either get rid of Fr. Marcel or we will cut our donations to you? I don't know but I suspect that some of that took place and he could not afford a drop in $$$.

So, what can we do...

1. Pray for Fr. Marcel.

2. Hold your donation to the Cardinal's Appeal. Do not give and give to another charity.

3. Be prepared to reduce or eliminate your weekly offering to your parish. This one is the hardest, as we are all members of a parish and want our parish to continue to survive. I am ready to cut my donation in half, if needed. But I will wait at this moment for that.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Barbara Johnson Used Her Mother's Funeral to Promote her Gay Agenda

If you listened to Barbara Johnson's story, it was one of true victimhood.

But, as you learn more about her and the truth comes out, you realize (and many of us did early on), that she was not telling the full truth.

She has been an open lesbian for over 25 years.

She is a Buddhist and not a lifelong Catholic.

She confronted Fr. Marcel before Mass.

She received communion from the layperson, who had no idea what had taken place and the background.

And on and on...

Let's admit it. She used her mother's funeral to promote her radical pro-abortion and pro-homosexual beliefs.

She knew what she was doing, baited Fr. Marcel and the Archdiocese of Washington fell into the trap.

Barbara Johnson, I don't know how much lower you can go. You are the lowest of the low.

This is my opinion and I am sticking to it. More at Tom Peter's blog.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So much for being open minded & diversity loving...

As I wrote of the incident in St. John Newman, not once did I (and anyone who commented that I can remember) called Barbara Johnson any sort of derogatory name. No one called her "faXXot" or "cXXX" or any other name. We simply explained that she was ineligible to receive communion due to her lifestyle.

So, the following comment is posted and seems to be pretty typical of those who keep speaking of tolerance, open mindedness, accepting of different lifestyles, etc. They are no better than Stalinists.

So, to Barbara Johnson and those who support her, here is one of your own, showing how open minded and tolerant of others he/she/it is. You must be really proud of this person, as he/she/it represents you and how you treat others. And, how you expect them to treat you.


Blogsmith-- Do me a huge favor and go fXXX yourself. Johnson is an absolute saint-- not only did she guide me through an extremely tough time in my life, but she also shaped my entire future. She changed my perspective on art-- on life... she has a fire like no other inside of her that schmucks like you DREAM of having in your pathetic, boring life. New rules, cXXXksXXXXXs. Your horribly inconsistent, older-than-dirt book of arid FARTS won't hold power over this nation for long. Your history of hatred, prejudice, self-gilt-- all that bullshit-- won't be sticking around. So enjoy your pasty-old Emperor Palatine while he can still stand on his arthritis-ridden feet.

SNAP admits to LYING!

In the text of the deposition – posted online by The Media Report on March 1 – Clohessy was asked by attorneys, “Has SNAP to your knowledge ever issued a press release that contained false information?”

“Sure,” he responded, without offering any defense or explanation.

I think that this says a great deal about SNAP, which seems to be keep funding flowing than anything else.

Read more about it at Catholic News Agency.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Should You Cancel Your Cardinal's Appeal Donation?

One my reader's was so upset over the way Fr. Marcel was thrown under the bus, that he called the Archdiocese and cancelled his pledge to the Cardinal's Appeal.

Here is what he wrote to me:

I just found your blog and love it. I called the Cardinal's Appeal office this morning and cancelled my pledge for 2012. When asked why, I said I was offended over the treatment of Fr. Marcel, and this was the only voice I had. The person on the other end began to say something, and then decided to only say: Have a nice day.

For a number of years, I have called for Catholics in this Archdiocese not to give. (I don't give, but at one time I did.) Not because I think that the Cardinal and the staff in Hyattsville are living it up on cruises and cocktail parties, but because I believe we need to send a message to the Cardinal that we will no longer tolerate his stance on handling pro-abortion/anti-family politicians.

Therefore, if you feel the spirit move you, I call upon you to cancel your Cardinal's Appeal donation. This seems to be the only way left to get through to the Cardinal.

If you do, let me know and the reaction from the Archdiocese.

Finally, if you decide to cancel, please take that money and give it directly to a good Catholic charity, like your local Catholic school, St. Ann's Home, a religious community, The Jean Juegen Residence, etc. Don't spend it on a fancy dinner, the movies, etc. You designated that money for a Catholic organization, then follow through.

Thank you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

From LifeSite News: Inside Sources on What Happened

It seems that as more and more of the story comes out, I think many of us will agree that Fr. Marcel was within his rights to do what he did.

Too bad this will never get out to the mainstream media.

No Comments will be posted at this time.


...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.

To read all, please go to LIFESITE NEWS:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Laetare Sunday: Solemn Evensong and Benediction

Press Release

Alexandria, Va. (March 1, 2012)— On Sunday, March 18, the Institute of Catholic Culture in conjunction with Reverend Eric Bergman and the Saint Thomas of Canterbury Choir presents a holy celebration of Laetare Sunday at St. Rita Catholic Church in Alexandria. Celebrated on the Sunday midway through Lent, Laetare Sunday is a day of joy spent in anticipation of the rejoicing of Easter. In Christian history, as this special Sunday ended at sunset, Christians would gather in prayer to thank God for the gift of Easter.

Join the Institute of Catholic Culture and the Saint Thomas of Canterbury Society as we experience the ancient Lenten service of Vespers in the English Catholic tradition. The service begins at 7:30 p.m. Free admission, and no reservations required. St. Rita Catholic Church, 3815 Russell Rd., Alexandria, Va.

For more information, please visit or call 540-635-7155.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Quest for the Living God

Am having trouble w/ chaning fonts, etc. Apologies for the poor formatting.

In April of 2011, the USCCB issued a news release, issued a press release regarding Quest for the Living God: Mapping the Frontiers of the Theology of God, by Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson, a Sister of St. Joseph of Brentwood, New York and professor at Fordham University. In this press release the Doctrine Committee, chaired by Cardinal Wuerl, states:

The Doctrine Committee asserted in late March that Quest for the Living God as a work of Catholic theology “does not take the faith of the Church as its starting point” and said “the author employs standards from outside the faith to criticize and to revise in a radical fashion the conception of God revealed in Scripture and taught by the Magisterium.”

I remember this being written about in the Catholic Standard and one of the reasons why this was important, as this was being used to teach large numbers of undergraduates. Therefore, they had to step in and discuss that this book really was inadequate for the study of Catholic theology. (I think I have gotten that one correct.)

You can read about the full news release here:

For those who are interested, you can read the full text of the response by the Doctrine Committee here:

So, why do I bring this up?

It seems that Quest for the Living God is part of the weekly book study at Resurrection Parish in Burtonsville (it is advertised on their website and the book is being sold in the Rectory). So, unless Fr. Keffer is using this book study to explain, in layman’s terminology, of why the bishops have criticized it and where Sr. Johnson went wrong, then why is it being used? (If it is being used to help teach why the views expressed are wrong, I can understand and support.)

So, here we have the Cardinal, as Chair of the Doctrine Committee, criticizing the book, and yet, one of our parishes is “teaching” from it and “selling” it.

We issue statements saying that a priest cannot refuse Holy Communion, but we have a radical retired bishop offering a retreat at St. Al’s in DC and a criticized book being used at one of our parishes.

Go figure.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Importance of Communion from the Archdiocese of Washington

This is one of the points I have been making since the start of this event....


From today's Washington's comPost:

As Catholics present themselves for Holy Communion, the priest or delegated minister says, “The Body of Christ” and “The Blood of Christ.” The communicant responds, “Amen.” This brief interaction expresses a much deeper reality of the belief in what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, the proper disposition of the one receiving Communion and the pastoral charity of the priest.

As Catholic Christians, we believe that the Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus Christ. It is not just a symbol, a wafer or a cup of wine. Jesus is truly present - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Because of this we believe that to receive Communion, a person should be in the state of grace, which means that they are not conscious of having committed a sin serious enough that it ruptures their relationship with God. As with any relationship, it is not just a one-sided judgment that determines what hurts the relationship with God. This determination is based on what the Church teaches objectively from sacred Scripture and tradition of Christian experience. If a person is conscious of having committed a grave sin, he or she may not receive Communion until they have received absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A person who is conscious of grave sin but has no opportunity to go to Confession may receive Communion for a serious reason, but first that person must pray to Christ expressing their sorrow, also known as a perfect act of contrition, and have the intention of going to Confession as soon as possible.

The priest has an obligation to make sure that the sacraments are respected, and any person who obstinately perseveres in manifest grave sin is
not to be admitted to Holy Communion. Ideally, the priest will handle such a situation pastorally by discussing the consequences of such sin with the person privately before actually denying them Communion.

Archdiocese of Washington recognizes that the prime obligation to determine one’s preparedness to receive Communion falls to the persons who are presenting themselves for Communion. In extreme cases where someone has been formally excommunicated or is trying to use the Eucharist to make a political statement it is appropriate to consider denying Communion. The reception of the Eucharist is a blessing and a grace. We should receive Jesus with the intention of becoming more like him. No one is entitled to the Eucharist. It is a free gift and should be received with humility and reverence.