Phil Lawler on CWN has a piece worthy of your attention today.
Here are some excerpts:
The betrayal of Father Guarnizo
By Phil Lawler
Bishop Knestout’s letter was entirely sympathetic to Johnson, entirely unsympathetic to Father Guarnizo. There was no hint that under some circumstances the priest might have been right to refuse Communion, and no hint that Johnson had been wrong to provoke the refusal. The message was a betrayal in two ways:
First, it is not clear whether Father Guarnizo was right to deny Barbara Johnson the Eucharist. But it is quite clear, and has been from the outset, that Barbara Johnson was wrong to present herself for Communion. […]
Second, the vicar general’s public statement did something very similar to what it accused Father Guarnizo of doing. […] A priest cannot lightly refuse Communion to someone he deems a sinner, because—among other things—by doing so he creates a scandal, exposing that “sinner” to public humiliation. Yet the archdiocese exposed Father Guarnizo to public humiliation.
And why did the archdiocese leave this poor priest dangling? Because he violated a policy of the archdiocese—a policy that may be in conflict with the law of the universal Church? At worst Father Guarnizo was guilty of a minor infraction against a local policy, not a serious transgression against God’s law. The archdiocesan policy weighed against refusing the Eucharist even when that action was justified (in fact obligatory), and the first statement from Bishop Knestout spoke only of the archdiocesan policy without making reference to the more serious questions about God’s law. So the faithful had every reason to worry that a good priest might be wrongly disciplined. And the subsequent statement from Bishop Knestout, claiming that Father Guarnizo had been removed from ministry for reasons unrelated to the Eucharistic incident, strained the credulity of the most loyal Catholics. We still do not have all the facts. But faithful Catholics cannot be blamed for harboring strong suspicions.
The betrayal of Father Guarnizo sends a chilling message to every priest in Washington: that if he is zealous in defending the Eucharist, he cannot count on support from the archdiocese. Since other radical activists will no doubt follow Barbara Johnson’s example, we can expect another test case soon. Let’s hope and pray that the next time, the archdiocese will show at least as much solicitude for the Eucharist (not to mention the accused priest) as for the critics of the Church.