Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout, vicar general of the archdiocese, wrote a letter to Johnson apologizing for the “lack of pastoral sensitivity” shown to her.
However, Johnson said that she will “not be satisfied” until Fr. Guarnizo is removed from his ministry. She wrote a letter telling the priest that he would “pay dearly” for “judging” her.
“I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life,” she said.
Gay advocates have been fighting fiercely in Maryland, which recently became the eighth state to pass legislation legalizing “gay marriage.”
Fr. William Byrne, secretary for pastoral ministry and social concerns for the Archdiocese of Washington, responded to the incident with a statement, which was published in the Washington Post on March 1.
He explained that priests have “an obligation to make sure that the sacraments are respected.”
In the case that a person is in a state of mortal sin, he or she should not receive Holy Communion, Fr. Byrne said.
Although the communicant is primarily responsible for determining his or her own worthiness to receive the Eucharist, there are some “extreme cases” in which “it is appropriate to consider denying Communion,” he explained.
Priests should ideally handle such situations by discussing them privately with the person before denying them Communion, he added.
“No one is entitled to the Eucharist,” Fr. Byrne said, noting that the ability to receive the Body and Blood of Christ is “a blessing and a grace.”
Msgr. Pope emphasized that the goal of Canon 915 is not to keep sinners away from the sacraments but to “restore them to communion” with the Church.
(Story continues below)
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Trying to spare people from receiving unworthily is “part of the pastoral practice of the Church,” he said.
He added that it is not just homosexual activity that is condemned by the Church as a grave sin, but many other activities as well, including an unmarried heterosexual couple cohabiting or an individual in an invalid marriage.
The Catholic Church is “not trying to single out” homosexuals, he said. “To receive the Eucharist worthily is essential.”