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Priest Was Wrong To Deny Communion To Lesbian, Archdiocese Says

Saeed Khan
AFP/Getty Images

There's been lots of talk on the Web and the news channels today about The Washington Post's front page account of what happened when Barbara Johnson went to Communion on Saturday during the funeral mass for her mother in Gaithersburg, Md.

The priest, Rev. Marcel Guarnizo said he would not give her the sacrament because she is a sinner.

Johnson is a lesbian.

"I was shocked," she told MSNBC today.

The archdiocese of Washington has weighed in with a letter of apology to Johnson.

As USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman explains on her Faith & Reason blog:

"The archdiocese's policy is in line with the official position of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It makes clear that while the church speaks against homosexual behavior, it calls for all people to be treated with dignity. ...

"The doctrine is that people who are actively choosing to continue sinning should not present themselves for Communion. Hence, divorced folks not remarried in the church, for example, are not supposed to get in line for the Eucharist.

"But most bishops, certainly both Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, and before him in the D.C. post, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, do not refuse Communion to anyone in a public setting. Neither does the pope who has given the sacrament to politicians who support legal abortion."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.