Prof. Peters examines development in the case of denial of Communion to aggressive lesbian

The Canonical Defender, Prof. Ed Peters, who does not have an open combox on his fine blog In The Light of the Law, has opined about the case in the Archdiocese of Washington DC, now infamous, wherein a lesbian Buddhist instrumentalized her own mother’s funeral Mass so as to set a trap for a priest whom she wanted to provoke into refusing her Holy Communion.

My own opinion has been clearly given all along. I think the priest in question, Fr. Guarnizo, acted prematurely in denying the lesbian Communion under can. 915, but his choice was understandable and ought to be applauded.   Given the lack of good examples from bishops in regard to can. 915, priests – who are also bound to obey can. 915 – have been left to shift for themselves.  Also, Fr. Guarnizo was trying to uphold some important principles.

In any event, people are writing to me that Fr. G was “suspended” by his ordinary bishops Card. Wuerl.

No… not really.   There is LAW involved, as it turns out.

That said…

Take it away Dr. Ed!

My emphases except for headings and comments.

Bp. Knestout’s March 9 letter on Fr. Guarnizo

March 11, 2012

Most of the lesbian/Communion controversy has been a dis-edifying parade of misleading commentary[I hope I am not guilty of same.] being proffered about misapplied laws. I don’t write here to correct these many errors, as their partisans (whether ‘left’ or ‘right’) don’t seem especially interested in what the law actually says, but I am happy to offer some observations on Bp. Knestout’s letter of March 9 for those who are trying to understand what is, and is not, at work in this matter.

1. Fr. Guarnizo has not been suspended (suspension is a canonical penalty levied only upon guilt for crimes, per c. 1333), but he has been placed on “administrative leave”, a term not found in the Code, [! Not in the Code… but it sure is used OFTEN.] but nevertheless serving as a practical description of a situation in which, usually, one is not permitted to function as a cleric for so long as a wider situation requires resolution. A priest’s faculties for confession, preaching (homilies), witnessing weddings, etc. can be restricted a couple of different ways, and there is no reason to think that those ways were not satisfied in this action (although direct discussion of them is lacking).  [By which I think Prof. P means, they haven’t been explained to the public.]

From the text of the letter, I cannot tell whether Guarnizo is prohibited from celebrating Mass even in private (he is certainly prohibited from public celebration), although the trend in such cases is to allow for private celebration. This question could easily be addressed between Knestout and Guarnizo, and probably has already been answered.

2. A vicar general almost certainly has sufficient authority to issue such a letter (c. 479 § 1); one may expect the Cardinal to be informed of this action in a timely manner (c. 480).

3. As a parochial vicar, Guarnizo has considerably fewer procedural rights to office than would a pastor. Compare a pastor’s rights under c. 522, etc., and c. 1740 etc., with those of a parochial vicar, per c. 552. All associate pastors know this. [An aside.  The terms I became used to were “assistant”, rather than “associate” or this “parochial vicar” creature.  Years ago a priest was visiting the rectory of my home parish when the late Msgr. Schuler reigned.  He ask Msgr. whether in that archdiocese we used the “assistant” or “associate”.  Without missing a beat Monsignor responded, “The first three letters are the same”.  But I digress.]

4. Guarnizo is not “incardinated” in the Archdiocese of Washington (c. 265 etc.); the situation of an “extern” priest is inherently more tenuous than is the situation of locally incardinated clergy, it being a function more of contract (express or implied) than of law. All extern priests know this.

5. Little in Knestout’s letter suggests that this action is being taken in response to the lesbian/Communion controversy (though one may be sure that the pro-lesbian camp will claim victory, [A big reason why I wonder if this was well-done.  But I am not the man in the big chair and don’t know much about the circumstances.] and the pro-Guarnizo camp will decry the ‘mistreatment’ of the priest).

The allegations of “intimidating behavior” by Guarnizo are not recited in Knestout’s letter, but three questions would occur to me: (a) is this just a pile-on by people looking to kick Guarnizo while he is down?, or (b) are there long-standing legitimate complaints against Guarnizo that the recent controversy made more likely to surface? , or (c) did Guarnizo’s post-controversy conduct in the parish render him intemperate with others, provoking what are really recent complaints? Such are the things that an investigation is designed to, well, investigate.

6. The letter expresses the hope that Guarnizo will be able to return to priestly ministry.

There.  As you arm-chair observers itch to weigh in, that is the analysis by a canonist of the law involved.

Finally, I will only note that there are a lot of priests out there doing some pretty crazy things and teaching oddities from their pulpits and they are not on administrative leave.  I’m just sayin’

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in 1983 CIC can. 915, Biased Media Coverage, Dogs and Fleas, Linking Back, Mail from priests, Religious Liberty, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Dr. K says:

    This is the same Archdiocese where Nancy Pelosi can proudly present herself to receive Communion.

    Who is in charge: a Catholic bishop/cardinal or the Democrat party?

  2. Trad Dad says:

    Priests , Religious & the Faithful have , in years gone by , laid down their lives in defense of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament . What more need be said ? What more can be said ? This happy Priest defended the Real Presence .
    From Our Lady`s Land of the Southern Cross .

  3. thickmick says:

    Absurd. Just take a step back from all that gobbly gook [I don’t think Canon Law is best characterized as “gobbly gook”.] and realize….here’s a priest trying to defend Our Lord and Savior from entering under a roof that stinks inside AND saving a soul from committing sacrilege. He’s doing his freakin’ job..stop over analyzing it. God Bless Holy Mother Church and the Priest’s who serve Her faithfully.

  4. Random Friar says:

    Re: “6. The letter expresses the hope that Guarnizo will be able to return to priestly ministry.”

    This is pretty almost boilerplate and pro forma. I have a feeling that the padre will find himself elsewhere. Outside priests as “hired guns” are easily dismissed, with or without cause, especially if they are more trouble than they’re worth, according to whoever makes those decisions.

  5. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    “Most of the lesbian/Communion controversy has been a dis-edifying parade of misleading commentary [I hope I am not guilty of same.]” Gracious, no!

    But while I’m here, two things come to mind. [UH OH! o{]:¬o ]

    I don’t think you really mean you “applaud” the action as above, for one cannot praise the violation (which this seems to have been) of a just (which this seems to be) law, even though one can, and sometimes should, excuse the violation–and a number of excuses seem available here. That approach preserves the law, which is right, and the man, who tried to act rightly. [Indeed. I like this “What Father Z meant to say…” approach. No. Prof. Peters I do not applaud clear violations of law…. well… most clear violations. I perhaps was not sufficiently clear even when I said that I thought Father was “premature” and added thereafter “Fr. Guarnizo was trying to uphold some important principles.”] Some people on the ‘left’ have run roughshod over the man, of course, and some on the ‘right’ have run roughshod over the law. Both approaches damage the Church.

    Also, your question some days back about funeral liturgies (I think you were the first to raise it) was reasonable among professionals, but almost everyone I have seen refer to it since has take it as some sort of Gospel truth-key unlocking the mysteries of Canon 912/915. I can’t run around correcting every amateur blogger’s mad dash into canonical theory, [WHEW! I dodged that one! I’m a professional blogger.] but, if one person can find one author (canonical, sacramental, moral, whatever) who has ever held that the canons on Communion by laity vary depending on what kind of Mass it is, we can talk about it. [A private Mass and Communion of the divorced and remarried under certain conditions so as to avoid scandal?] Till then, everything here boils down to the questions of fact assessed in light of the laws [Catchy!] that I presented accurately. For those inclined to read them.

    As you do, consistently. Best, edp.

    [The wider world (of priests especially) is in need of good materials and instruction on can. 915.]

  6. acardnal says:

    The Archdiocesan letter as posted in its entirety on Rorate Caeli blog states that Fr. Guarnizo’s faculties have been removed until an inquiry is completed.

    I will only repeat what was stated on the Rorate Caeli blog: “The Church cannot go on like this, leaving scandalous heterodox priests in place while rigorous and stern orthodox priests are ‘prohibited from exercising any priestly ministry’ .”

  7. Jbuntin says:

    “Finally, I will only note that there are a lot of priests out there doing some pretty crazy things and teaching oddities from their pulpits and they are not on administrative leave. I’m just sayin’ ”

    As long as those things are happy clappy, make you feel good kind of oddities, who’s going to complain?

  8. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    The conditions under which law can be violated is a issue of long interest to me, going back to my senior thesis in 1979. Sounds like a good topic for next August, on the patio, eh? [I’ll bring the grappa.]

    And no fair quoting your illustrious self! I’m looking for, you know, Halligan, or Regatillo, or Cappello, somebody who knows than you and me put together. And by “kind of Mass” I’ve in mind something listed so in the Roman Missal, not just Mass under certain circumstances. Some classic case studies of, say, Masses in concentration camp barracks did not turn on what “type” of Mass they were, for the were the same type of Mass as celebrated everywhere, just under abnormal circumstances. We really don’t want to start assessing Communion reception rules based on “type” of Mass, and they do exist, unless the law tells us to do so. Ubi lex non distinguit, neque nos distinguere debemus, nonne?

  9. THREEHEARTS says:

    Canon Law to me is or are laws written by men. I am fed up with reading about them as they are easily interpreted by men. How do some of these men driven laws appeal to Christ when the Eucharist is used to bring judgment upon oneself??? Stop quoting laws etc just say it is an abomination to tale the Eucharist unworthily and is a grave very grave mortal sin and start teaching about sin properly. All the dancing two steps I read about on the many blogs are just that, it is tolerance in many cases for sin and it should not be happening. [Think of what you are saying. You want people to follow rules, but then you trash the law you want them to follow.]

  10. AGA says:

    How many important issues in the legal or spiritual world are as black and white as Ed Peters is making this one particular issue to be?

    I’ve rarely read about another complicated or complex issue discussed as black and white as this is being made out to be.

    Ed Peters could have helped the strength of his argument more if he had offered an analysis which presented the conflicting issues at play and then came down on one side. Instead we get a one-sided, seemingly legalistic, interpretation of one, particular Canon.

    Are there really no competing interests here? Is it really so clear that from afar Ed Peters can recommend a diktat.

    As an illustration of how ludicrous this is — Are there any penalties for a priest knowingly giving Holy Communion to a person when Canon 915 clearly allows for the withholding of Communion? In other words – what are the canonical penalties for not enforcing Canon 915 and for just giving out Holy Communion recklessly?

    Because the way this case is being presented to us by Ed Peters, the safest position from a “legal” perspective is to err on the side of giving away Holy Communion to anyone and everyone. When in doubt, pass Him out. Is that really what Canon Law tells the priests to do? When in doubt, pass Him out?

    In my personal, unqualified, lay opinion – this is ultramontanism masquerading as authentic Catholicism.

    If some Vatican organ reverses Card. Weurl and vindicates Fr. Guarnizo, what kind of intellectual cheetah flips will the ultramontanists make in order to explain that. No doubt the same types of cheetah flips they did vis-a-vis the old Mass when Summorum Pontificum was published.

  11. acardnal says:

    @Dr. Peters: A reader some days ago suggested that in order to prevent this kind of controversy at either a funeral, or perhaps a marriage, that communion not be administered to the congregation. Only priest would communicate. Is that a legitimate possibility?

    [I am not Dr. Peters, but I believe that, according to the law, a person is to be admitted to Communion unless there is a compelling reason according to the law for why they shouldn’t be.]

  12. ContraMundum says:

    That archdiocese is indeed screwed up.

    A little more than a decade ago, I was a postdoc at the University of Maryland. I had not yet converted, but I was increasingly in the gravitational pull of the Catholic Church. I attended Mass near campus on June 25, which commemorates the birthday of St. John the Baptist. To my surprise, a bishop was presiding on that day — at the time I thought it was the archbishop, but I am no longer sure, since the difference in color between maroon and red may have been lost on me.

    Whoever he was, the bishop said two things in his homily that startled me. The first was that this was the only birthday other than that of Christ Himself that the Church celebrated. I wasn’t yet Catholic, but I knew that was wrong; of course the Church also celebrates the birthday of the Blessed Virgin. I was surprised that a bishop could be so careless.

    The second problem made me really angry. He said that when John lept in the womb of Elizabeth, he acknowledged the presence of Christ “even before his life began”. So, he’s in the womb already, but his life has not yet begun, huh? I guess there’s no real problem with abortion then. Presumably all John had at that point was “potential life”, as Planned Parenthood and NARAL insist. Anyone with even a dim awareness of the Church in America would know that many in the congregation would be that argument, just as anyone with even a dim awareness of driving safety knows that it is illegal and dangerous to drive drunk. Presumably the bishop did not mean to injure anyone’s faith, just as the drunk does not mean to cross over into another lane of traffic and cause a fatal accident. I was every bit as angry at the bishop as I would be at a drunk driver; in both cases, lives were at stake.

    I did not leave by the main door. I did not want the bishop to offer me his hand. I would have explained to him then and there the gravity of his mistake, and I did not think that would be appropriate.

  13. Dr. Edward Peters: assessing Communion reception rules based on “type” of Mass, and they do exist

    I got lost there for a moment. What exist? “Reception rules” exist or “types of Mass” exist?

    As for “types of Mass” existing. Mass is Mass is Mass, right? There are levels of solemnity and some rubrics change depending on the context and celebrant, but Mass is Mass. Nonne?

    BTW… I just caught the impact of your comment to me, “…. your question … about funeral liturgies … was reasonable among professionals, but almost everyone I have seen refer to it since has take it as some sort of Gospel truth-key…”

    Was that your way of saying: “Don’t ask that sort of thing in public view!”

    In the context of issues concerning, for example, exorcism, I take that “not in public” stand, btw.

    Prof. Peters, I think we need a good book on can. 915. Know anyone qualified to write one?

    I do.

  14. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Fr. Z said, “Finally, I will only note that there are a lot of priests out there doing some pretty crazy things and teaching oddities from their pulpits and they are not on administrative leave. I’m just saying’

    My sentiments. How many faithful Catholics have been subjected to “intimidating behavior” by priests in parishes when they try to discuss blatant liturgical abuse and teachings from the pulpit that are actually foreign to the faith?

    I’ll grant you that we do not know all of the facts in this case. However, speaking on general terms, it just seems that there is a quick trigger with orthodox-oriented priests (almost a zero-tolerance), and wide latitude given to priests who persistently commit liturgical abuses and pass along strange teachings from the pulpit, and neglect their duty to teach the fulness of the faith.

    That’s ok. Soon, with what I see in newer priests and seminarians today, there won’t be enough nursing homes and distant outposts to stuff them in. From this crop of men will come another generation of bishops. Then, we will see who gets sent to the proverbial outpost.

    More bishops need to follow the lead of Bishop Earl Boyea some years ago when parishioners complained about changes made by a new parish priest. After reviewing the complaints, Bishop Boyea determined all that the priest had done was within his right, and he explained this to the people of that parish when addressing their complaint.

  15. rodin says:

    Admittedly canon law is/are so much exotica to me. Common sense, however, is a bit less alien. A priest once informed of a person’s perversion, and having spoken with the person about it, and having been prevented for pursuing the matter, seems not to have had any choice but to protect the Holy Eucharist. Somewhat timorously I suggest that his actions were not premature as you have said. What was disgustingly premature was the letter of apology from Bishop Knestout.

  16. Capt. Morgan says:

    This situation makes me want to curl up and cry. With the likes of America mag, NC Reporter, Fr. Flegler, Fr. Reese, Sister Shehan et al rolling along doing and saying that which is in total disagreement with the faith, a seemingly faithful Priest is sacked. Up is down and down is up.
    What is happening to our Church?????
    How will this end???
    Not well!

    This smacks of Fr. Pavone and Fr. Rodriguez.

    And just for thought ,how do our Bishops fight against obama on the mandate with a straight face when the Church is silencing Her own when speaking the TRUTH about sin?

  17. ContraMundum says:


    Not necessarily. Your argument would certainly not cover a discussion between the priest and potential communicant that occurred in the confessional. That doesn’t apply to this case, but it does make clear that the knowledge of the priest is not necessarily enough for him to publicly deny Communion.

  18. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    AGA writes “Ed Peters could have helped the strength of his argument more if he had offered an analysis …” and thus misunderstands what I am doing.

    I’m not here to convince anyone of anything. If I were debating, and hoping to persuade people of my view–as I do from time to time–yes, I’d have to use arguments, etc. But I’m not an advocate for a cause here, I am, if anything, a teacher explaining some difficult issues to, one would think, people who want to know more than they want to opine.

    Feel free to disregard every comment I offer. If you think you understand the law better than (or others), by all means, say so! You might be right. I’m not infallible, nor dictatorial. I am confident in my views, but hardly one going around issuing “diktats”. Chuckle chuckle.

  19. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    FrZ: ‘Was that your way of saying: “Don’t ask that sort of thing in public view!”’ No. Admittedly, it’s a fine line sometimes, but you hardly violated it. We’re not talking XXX and YYY or ZZZ here. Still, I’ve seen all sorts of folks now assume that the rules for receiving Communion have to take into account what ‘kind’ of Mass it is (and, here, they end up RAISING the standards for Communion reception for funerals, and once that principle is accepted, get ready for some incredibly complex new rules for reception at other “types” of Masses–which is why it wont happen).

    If you were to take everything I’ve written on c. 915,, would it be a book? :) edp [I would call it a … good start!]

  20. acardnal says:

    Following up on my previous post below, is it possible that in order to avoid this controversial predicament,that a funeral Mass NOT be conducted at all? I know that a Mass is not required in order to confer the Sacrament of Matrimony. Is a funeral Mass required? I think not. Then again it might be difficult to advise against a Mass if the deceased family members are requesting one. But I seem to recall a priest on this blog site who suggested no Mass under these circumstances.

    When my father died (a Catholic) we did not have a Mass out of deference to his wife, a Lutheran. We did have a service conducted by a priest with prayers of committal and commendation and so forth. But no Mass. (I did have Masses said for the repose of his soul later.)

    acardnal says:
    11 March 2012 at 5:25 pm

    @Dr. Peters: A reader some days ago suggested that in order to prevent this kind of controversy at either a funeral, or perhaps a marriage, that communion not be administered to the congregation. Only priest would communicate. Is that a legitimate possibility?

    [I am not Dr. Peters, but I believe that, according to the law, a person is to be admitted to Communion unless there is a compelling reason according to the law for why they shouldn’t be.]

  21. AGA says:


    “I’m not here to convince anyone of anything.”

    I’m assuming you’re writing in order to have someone read your work, right?

    Saying both “I’m an expert” and presenting only a one-sided argument (rather than laying out the legitimate spectrum of arguments) are logical fallacies and you certainly know that, sir. [Puh-leeze. This is not Studia Canonica. This is the combox of my blog.]

    Presenting divergent opinions on a subject is not part, exclusively, of advocacy writing. It should be part of all intellectually honest writing. Likewise, as a reader I’d like to read stuff which is written soundly and completely. Isn’t that what you’d recommend to all Catholics? Encouraging them to read carefully and beware of logical fallacies. Or do you advocate both the use, and unqualified reception, of appeals to authority and one-sided argumentation? I don’t think you would, sir. But on the other hand, it would fall in line with my characterization of your position as “ultramontane”, as I did previously on this thread.

    Beyond simply critiquing your argument style and fallacies, [Fight! Fight!] there are true dangers in your presentation too. [The “danger” card, too!] Look at the response given from the audience here on this blog and on others. Many folks out there are developing a deep distrust (or at least antipathy) to the laws of the Church because of your presentation. Honest, sincere, and simple Catholics cannot embrace the cognitive dissonance which your presentation engenders in them. Maybe you don’t have this uneasy feeling, because you see the whole picture and can understand it. All I’m saying, sir, is you should help your brothers and sisters come to the same understanding… and peace. [What I note at the end, is your appeal to your psychic powers. You know how people “out there” actually feel. I’d cut Prof. Peters a little slack. Perhaps he isn’t trying to be as dangerously deceptive as you have painted him? o{]:¬) ]

  22. PostCatholic says:


    Ten years ago the Archbishop of Washington was the late James Cardinal Hickey. He wouldn’t have said the things you heard, I am confident, but in case you doubt me let me ask if the bishop you saw was nearly blind and very frail?

    Barry Knestout at the time was his priest-secretary. Barry is no liberal in any sense. He was my pastor at St John’s when I came to the conclusion that the Catholic church had drifted to the right so far that it believed disturbing and wrong things I could no longer assent to. I’m sure he’s being politically more than fair to this priest in the crosshairs. Personally fair is another question about which I should not opine.

  23. The Cobbler says:

    “4. Guarnizo is not “incardinated” in the Archdiocese of Washington (c. 265 etc.); the situation of an “extern” priest is inherently more tenuous than is the situation of locally incardinated clergy, it being a function more of contract (express or implied) than of law. All extern priests know this.”
    Ah yes, the extern keyword… not always well explained. I think I’ve heard it means the priest in question is defined in another header file or something like that, but I’ve yet to see a formal reference explaining it in a manner that wasn’t too technical for me to read and parse the explanation with certainty. [It means he doesn’t quite have the right to Christian burial.]

  24. Sissy says:

    If Fr. Guarnizo is going to be at loose ends after his administrative leave is lifted, I wonder if we could get him in my church?

  25. ContraMundum says:


    I think it was one of the auxiliary bishops. Looking at his picture, it could not have been Cardinal Hickey.

  26. brjeromeleo says:

    Are we certain that this woman deliberately set out to entrap the priest? I know she has made a media circus of the affair after the fact, but before all that she would not have known that the priest would have forbidden her to communicate. I disagree with her tactics, but I doubt she was premeditative and just using her mother’s funeral as a means to a gay agenda end. I have a hard time believing that. She capitalised on what happened, but could in no way (I think,) be certain that it would happen that way.

  27. I was among those who brought up the funeral angle, not because I think a funeral Mass must be per se different from any other Mass, or ought to be under can. 915, but because it seems relevant to the question whether the requirement of manifestness was satisfied. If, for example, all the people who attended the funeral were deposed under oath, how many of them could say they did not know about the daughter’s proclivities and living arrangements? If they were to testify that they did know, would that not make a difference to whether the law had been violated?

  28. Dismas says:

    I don’t know Fr. Guarnizo personally and currently have no reason to believe he is not a fine priest who acted courageously and decisively in this circumstance. My heart breaks if indeed he has been placed on administrative leave. However, my heart and my personal opinion have little or nothing to do in judgement of this matter due to the fact I don’t and can’t know all the circumstances and reasoning involved in any actions taken within our Church thus far. I certainly am unable to cast any derision or detraction regarding Cardinal Wuerl. If I did I would be guilty of bearing false witness and calumny.

    As lay people reading this blog, here are a few things we do know. We as lay people are not ordained as Eucharistic Ministers (Priests), we also are not episcopally ordained (Bishops) and most of us certainly are not subject matter experts in canon law or canon lawyers.

    For my part, while all this is being sorted out, I’m quite content not to contribute any further confusion, false witness or criticism. I’m pleased to submit myself in trust to the Magisterium and hierarchy of our Church in this matter. Regarding the Magisterium of our Church, does the cream (the truth) not always rise to the top in the end?

    And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. [Matthew 16:19]

    Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. [Matthew 18:18]

  29. PostCatholic says:

    The auxiliary bishops at the time were Bill Lori (now of Bridgeport), Leonard Olivier SVB (now retired), and depending on the time you were there, Francisco Gonzalez-Valer (still an auxiliary) or possibly Kevin Farrell (still Bishop of Dallas, I think).

    If it was none of those (I think it was none of those, I knew them all and they are/were all scholars), Washington has a lot of bishops stopping through. The Archdiocese for the Military Services has its archbishop and auxiliaries there, many bishops from around the US were once priests in Washington and make return visits, and there are a lot of provincial headquarters there which have religious bishops visiting, too.

  30. Ambrose Jnr says:

    Considering Fr Guarnizo’s link with the diocese in Moscow and that he is a priest external to the diocese, does anyone know whether Fr Guarnizo is a priest of the Fraternity of St Charles (Fraternity of Missionary Priests of St Charles Borromeo, living the Communione e Liberazione spirituality)? This would be an explanation for Fr Guarnizo’s magnificent orthodoxy…

  31. servusmariaen says:

    I remember when I first heard about Father Altier’s situation a few years ago. I was disappointed and shocked knowing how many heterodox or downright heretics were out there and allowed to continue unabashed for years on end. Some time ago I began to listen to Father Rodriguez’s online sermons and was edified by his words. However, I wondered just how long it would be before he too would be silenced or exiled to the “desert”. Well, it happened and again I asked myself what all of this is all about? Now when I first heard of Father Guarnizo’s situation a few days ago I feared the worst for him. I’m wondering whether the Church realizes the scandal these types of situations cause the faithful striving to be true to the faith? This is making me question a lot of things and I echo what RORATE CAELI printed:

    “The Church cannot go on like this, leaving scandalous heterodox priests in place while rigorous and stern orthodox priests are ‘prohibited from exercising any priestly ministry’ .”

  32. Tina in Ashburn says:

    How is it that errant Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops never get put on administrative leave?

  33. Northern Ox says:

    Having not been there, I would be very hesitant to draw conclusions along the lines of “It was a funeral Mass and therefore most people there knew XYZ ….”

    When I think back on funerals I’ve attended (Masses or otherwise), it’s a very diverse assortment — some small family funerals where everybody knew everybody (and everybody’s business), but also many where most of the attendees were co-workers, fellow parishioners, or other less-intimate friends, where the majority would have known nothing about the lives of family members of the deceased.

    Maybe most people did know XYZ at this particular funeral … or maybe they didn’t … but I would not presume either just because it was a funeral.

    (This is apart from other canonical considerations that may be relevant.)

  34. AGA says:

    Fr Z,

    The ultramontane analysis of complicated issues in the Church does good for no one. [Gratis asseritur, gratis negatur. Let’s turn that sock inside out and say that your analysis is antinomian. Hey everyone! This guy is an antinomian! Why? Because I say so! Why? Because he doesn’t like a proper interpretation of can. 915 which includes that whole odiosa restringenda et favoribilia ampliantur thing!]

    I’m not appealing to psychic powers; I’m reading the comments on your blog and others. Like this one:
    “Absurd. Just take a step back from all that gobbly gook [I don’t think Canon Law is best characterized as “gobbly gook”.]”

    Do we really expect good Catholics to walk away from this issue holding the belief that the Church forbids pastors from denying Holy Communion from self-proclaimed apostate Lesbians? Beyond that specific case, is is truly the position of the Church, “When in doubt, pass Him out”? [Tu enim dixisti.]

    It’s the logic of ultramontanism and it will drive good Catholics into error, or despair, or schism. [There’s nothing like a little hyperbole to spice up a comment. The Church has laws for the sake of good order and to protect the rights of Catholics and to aid people in the salvation of their souls. If you don’t understand the law, you – with your antinomian tendencies – might not want to just toss it aside. I now withdraw from this fever swamp with a greater sense of empathy for Prof. Peters.]

  35. Mrs. O says:

    Would Administrative Leave also be appropriate to get people out of harms way/so things can die down? And so investigations can occur? I’m glad it was AL. That doesn’t mean anything bad to me nor that anyone won. It could be the priest is being taken care of, in a good way.

  36. aspiringpoet says:

    I have to admit I did not see this coming at all. Maybe I would feel differently about it if bishops were cracking down on heterodox priests … some of whom can be “intimidating” themselves. I know a faithful Catholic who was intimidated and slandered by an unfaithful priest, whose complaint to the bishop went ignored. Of course, she didn’t make a big fuss on public television.

  37. iudicame says:

    How is it that child molesters are passed around for decades yet this bishop throws an orthodox priest under the bus in 3 weeks time? A grave sickness in the Church! Grave. m

  38. Suz. from Oklah. says:

    I’ve heard stories of Saint Padre Pio measuring women’s skirts, and if they were too short they wouldn’t be able to go to confession. He would kick them out. He also denied short-skirt wearers Holy Communion. Where was the law then? Was Saint Padre Pio disciplined for these actions?

  39. tcreek says:

    Father Guarnizo’s assignment has been withdrawn and his priestly faculties removed according to an archdiocesan letter at Abbey Roads blog. Other considerations seem to be involved.

  40. James Joseph says:

    Despite what happens… in the long-run I am sure the Yukon territories would gladly accept another priest.

  41. GirlCanChant says:

    This just really makes me so sad. The only thing I can say for certain about Fr. Guarnizo (not knowing him) is that he was very outspoken on abortion. There are videos online that attest to this. I hope things work out for him.

  42. trad catholic mom says:

    Why am I not surprised.

  43. MissOH says:

    I am not buying the “intimidation” but I will see if any evidence of this is forthcoming. My youngest is much louder and I dare say more intimidating (to anyone who is shy or an introvert) than Father. I could see how those who like the “Jesus is love and Jesus is our friend” homilies may not have appreciated hearing the gospel preached with truth, challenge and love.
    I am just so sad but I will keep praying and trying to make sacrifices for Fr. Guarnizo and all priests.

  44. Kathleen10 says:

    Fr. Guarnizo is in big trouble. The organized Left is becoming more radical, more extreme, more aggressive, and they have intimidated the population to such an extent that an all-out culture war with real winners and losers seems inevitable. Indeed, the opening salvos have been fired!
    What is currently going on in the talk show realm with Rush Limbaugh is analogous to Fr. Guardino’s precarious situation. Organizers (liberals) have realized there is blood in the water, and they are coming in for the kill. The Left would like nothing better than to remove Rush and his conservative cohorts from talk radio. They dislike the opposing view, and they want to silence them all, so that their viewpoint can be the only one available. This they claim, is in “the public’s interest”. This weekend Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem have offered their opinion that Rush should be removed from the radio. They are helping to involve the FCC to deny Rush Limbaugh his job, ultimately.
    We are entering a new phase of life in America. I wish it were a good one, but, the time is approaching when fence-sitting will not be an option, for those who “don’t want to get involved” or “be negative”. If we don’t speak up, we will be told to shut up. Our church is under attack. Our American values as understood over the last two hundred years are under attack. The problem is, there are so many people who clearly have no appreciation for traditional values, no sense of morality as it would be understood by most readers or contributors of this blog, and misplaced compassion. Whoever shouts the loudest and appeals to fair play usually “wins”.
    May the Good Lord protect and keep Fr. Guardino and all other priests, bishops, religious, and laity, as we begin to encounter the plans of the diabolical in our own culture. And may we have the victory in America, before it is too late.

  45. Kathleen10 says:

    oops, my bad, “Fr. Guarnizo”. Apologies.

  46. jm says:

    I feel bad for Fr Guarnizo, but the worse scandal is imply the fact the the Diocese has not articulated any decent response to the whole fiasco. The Church’s public voice on homosexuality could not the more muddled. People smirk about the Episcopalians, but I think Rome is only a few steps behind them. If anyone says homosexuality is bad, a rush of apologies follows. “We didn’t mean to say…”

    Please, by all means, would someone tell me what Rome means to say? Or the USCCB? There was an old document on ministry to homosexual persons, issued by a guy called Ratzinger when he was at the CDF. But I guess like birth control, no one really has to take *that* seriously. After all, we all know and love way to many homosexual people. The choir director does such a wonderful job with all the liturgical banners and sanctuary decorations….No one can tell me these dear people are bad… blahblahblah. If the shepherds won’t toe the line, I don’t know who will? I hope Fr. G is not a load of issues, but even if he is, he acted essentially rightly here, canon law be damned. I assume the same guys wrote it that mapped out all the annulment nonsense.

  47. @brjeromeleo Yes, this was a total set-up. The woman in question is not even Catholic but a Buddhist. She knew what she was doing. She was told, privately, not to present herself for Communion; she did so anyway. She wasn’t even denied Communion, she simply went to the Extra Eucharistic Minister and received from her. She certainly accomplished what she vowed to do: to see this priest removed. No doubt her next move will to be to compel the Church to bless her and her “lover’s” (her words) union.

    @diane: Well, eventually Father Robideau did leave OLF parish but their loss is our gain. He now says the TLM weekly at the Cathedral in Lansing (in the Crypt). Bishop Boyea is good supporting solid priests.

  48. Cathy says:

    I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but it does seem to put the good priest in a precarious situation when someone provocatively makes an announcement of mortal sin and a lifestyle that they know is against Church teaching. It doesn’t sound to me like Father Guarnizo made an ordeal at the communion line, by loudly announcing he would not give her Jesus, from the sounds of it, the refusal was so discreet and undetectable that the EMHC next to him did not notice and the woman received there instead. I’m not a Canon Lawyer, but, in this day and age where we may see more and more of this situation, I wonder about the possibility of provisions being put in place to protect the priest defending the Eucharist in such a situation. If no provision is given, does the priest face an action which, then, places him in situations which divide his loyalties? At what point does the priest have the right to publicly deny the Eucharist to a communicant?

  49. mike cliffson says:

    He was right even if he was wrong.
    Canon law whatever MUST be out of date, in any case – what of the parts of the world – USA never? where host stealers for satanic purposes , nonbaptized followers of those they consider Prophets et al, and even plain nutters, try to receive communion for nefarious and desecratory purposes ?

  50. jflare says:

    Good Grief!
    Seems to me there’s a serious problem here with canon law.
    Or at least the approach being used to interpret the same.

    How blatant and obvious must a sinner be before a priest can act on information that isn’t subject to the Seal of the Confessional? Honestly! When a woman tells you that this other woman here happens to be her lover, the reasoning I’m seeing presented would insist that, regardless of what the overall political and social situation of life is, regardless of what may actually be VERY well known to the family, regardless of what may be revealed regarding her faith life, regardless of anything else, the priest should offer communion anyway if she approaches.

    Seems to me it’ll be VERY difficult for any priest to protect against sacrilege of the Eucharist if the burden of proof goes so stridently against the priest. Reminds me of all the screams and howls about civilian casualties in war when an opposing side decides to place said civilians as close as legally possible to obvious lines of fire.

    And for what it’s worth, I think the left will rightfully claim victory: They wished to see him removed from active ministry and now, he’s effectively removed from active ministry. Technically, he’s not been suspended, but being placed on administrative leave has mostly the same practical effect.

    I’d make a fair wager that, even if the investigation discerns that he acted mostly as he should, we won’t hear too much about it. Certainly the mainstream media will be pretty shy of admitting that he could’ve been even remotely right.

    Even if canon law has technically been honored by this, the public relations aspect of it won’t allow much room for the technicalities.
    Sad to say, I’m afraid we’ve effectively lost this battle.

  51. jflare says:

    “Maybe most people did know XYZ at this particular funeral … or maybe they didn’t … but I would not presume either just because it was a funeral.”

    I think I would, Northern Ox. In many cases, when you’re attending a funeral, you may not know every detail of every person’s life, but you probably DO know enough about close relatives or close friends of the deceased that the attitudes of those close relatives and friends..aren’t exactly a surprise.
    Usually, one can determine something about a person, even if only by what people won’t say.
    Yes, it’s possible that some of the congregation didn’t know about the daughter’s life, but I suspect many DID. Fr’s actions might have been a little disconcerting to some, depending on how strictly the mother and the parish had practiced the faith. In this case, it’s plausible that the real scandal might have been the fact that many might’ve considered Fr’s act outrageous–because they might’ve felt the daughter had a right to communion–as a result of their own poor comprehension of the faith.

    I will suggest that we may see much more of this in coming times as priests have the opportunity to remind folks of what the Church actually teaches.

  52. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I’m a resident of the Archdiocese of Washington. I don’t recall hearing of any of our priests being placed on administrative leave before. That’s a new one on me. Up to now, to my knowledge, administrative leave is the employment status into which law enforcement personnel in our area are placed when, for example they have been involved in a police shooting that leaves a suspect dead. This kind of leave, it is always emphasized in the newspapers, is routine and is no reflection on the actions of the officer involved; sometimes he or she is later decorated as a result of that very incident.

    I don’t know much about these things, but I did ask myself: where would archdiocesan officials have gotten the idea to create the notion of administrative leave and to place Fr. Marcel on it? There might be many answers, but perhaps the simplest answer would be from law enforcement sources consulted over the incident. And why the AD of Wash officials consult law enforcement over such an incident? I don’t know anything about it, but one answer that suggests itself might be: because Fr. M. had been receiving death threats – credible ones – over the incident. Death threats that might have specified not only Father’s life, but also that of others in the parish.

    Should not the existence of such threats have been made public in defense of the Archdiocese’s actions and in defense of Fr. Marcel? If AD officials are following protocols set for them by law enforcement, then exactly not, and for two reasons: the twin goals of law enforcement are (1) the safety and security of the victims of the threats and (2) to give law enforcement the upper hand to quietly and diligently investigate the sources of these threats – best way to do that is often let the bad guy think he now has the upper hand, and, while protecting the victims, let him make a mistake. Making these threats public would seriously undermine both of these goals.

    Anyway. I could be wrong.

  53. Is this a case of the priest, exercising pastoral judgement, is then thrown under the bus? If it is I hope young men considering a priestly vocation in the Washington Archdiocese might be better advised to go elsewhere. Good grief!

  54. Clinton says:

    I think it’s safe to assume, in light of the DC archdiocese’s handling of this matter, that the day
    we shall see pro-abortion-yet-“c”atholic politicians denied Communion just got more remote.
    Certainly in the DC area priests will now be much more reluctant to enforce Canon #915, lest
    they also taste the tender mercies of the chancery.

  55. AGA says:

    Well, I guess my previous comment will never make it out of moderation Limbo.

    Anyway, I’ve got a suggestion for your “Say the Black, Do the Red” product line: Some mugs and other gear saying “Canon 915: When in doubt, pass Him out”. I’d suggest a rainbow of colors for the letters. Good priests can keep the mug in the sacristy to remind themselves of the “law of the Church”.

  56. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Thx, Pater, re AGA. By nature I assume people are sincere in what they say (till proven otherwise) and by training I take their words at face value. Obviously, AGA doesn’t accord me either presumption. His or her rhetoric is emboldened by not having to take ownership of his/her views by using a real name. Plus, sarcasm is easier, and initially, more emotionally satisfying.

    Oh well, we shoulder on.

  57. Glen M says:

    One tactic I’ve seen at a funeral Mass is for the priest to quickly explain Church teaching on worthy reception of Holy Communion and ask that everyone who presents themselves be in a state of grace. Given that most people at a funeral know each other it then puts the spotlight on, say, a practicing lesbian Buddhist if she defies the request.

    The fact this woman confronted the priest prior to the Mass making it clear she is not in a state of grace only then to present herself is very disturbing. Imagine if this becomes a trend.

    While we don’t know all the facts in this action by the Vicar General it certainly doesn’t look good right now. It looks like a faithful priest has been disciplined for upholding Church laws. Our Holy Father keeps talking about the Church being in a crisis. Does this action help or hinder the recovery process? Hopefully everyone who wields power here on earth remembers no one avoids Final Judgement.

  58. dans0622 says:

    I, for one, appreciate Dr. Peters’ commentary. I sometimes consider starting up a canon law commentary blog but then I think “Dr. Peters says what needs to be said. Why bother?” Thanks, Dr., and you too, Fr. Z.

  59. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    dano622, assuming you’re a canonist (or something akin to one) why not start a blog as a public service? i certainly can’t comment on every issue that comes up (i do have a day job, and evening job!) and that’s not even counting the requests i get from folks to comment on this or that. all good ideas, too. true, you’ll experience your share of vilification, of course, but that comes with the territory, you know, with explaining imperfect laws, imperfectly applied, to a world that thinks it knows everything and is very quick to take personal offense with any disagreement. i’ve been doing it, alone, for 10 years now. would welcome competent help. think about it. best, edp.

  60. levi1991 says:

    Weren’t we told somewhere (by a reliable source) that she went to the sacristry and introduced her lesbian partner to him as that? And essentially flaunted her lifestyle in his face? In that case it becomes considerably harder to claim he is not following the law, in that case he would have moral certainty that she was in a state of mortal sin and moreover that she was public and unrepentant sinner.

  61. tcreek says:

    Why did the Archdiocese not use the “PRIVATE pastoral approach” with this pastor as they claim they do, or will do, in situations with Catholic politicians that openly act in contradiction to the teachings of the Faith? Did this have to be a public Canon Law issue? Below are quotes, some from where I know not where, that warn of church management becoming Catholic Inc.
    Pope Benedict XVI – has long been critical of the professional ecclesial bureaucrat as a sociological type. He has stated that “what the Church needs to respond to the needs of man of every age is holiness, not management.” The Pope has frequently criticized the growth of the output of studies, reports and meetings. Asked once whether the Vatican would operate better in Germany, he responded, “What a disaster! The Church would be too organized. The saints were people of creativity, not bureaucratic functionaries of apparatuses,” he added.
    “Less clearly but nevertheless unmistakably, we find here in the West, too, a revival of new Catholic initiatives that are not ordered by a structure or a bureaucracy. The bureaucracy is spent and tired. These initiatives come from within, from the joy of young people.” — “Light of the World”
    Bureaucracies are always are at risk of goal displacement. Procedures set up to achieve a goal tend to become goals in themselves – in other words habits become values. There is an irresistible temptation to place more importance on the process than on the real spiritual need at hand.
    Bureaucracies rely on programs and procedures. They tend to be process-focused, not result-oriented. The truth that most often escapes bureaucrats is that the main source of creativity and progress comes from the individual mind and its response to everyday challenges. Indeed, true progress depends on the competence, on the holiness of individuals. The bureaucratic solution is to multiply new provisions and policies.
    The multiplicity of meetings, procedures and programs can create the illusion of progress when in fact little is being accomplished. A breathing human being is far superior to relying on pre-planned programs or strategies.

  62. Denis says:

    In what is at the very worst an ambiguous situation–certainly not a situation in which ‘administrative leave’ is required by canon law–Abp. Wuerl has decided to side with the buddhist lesbian antiCatholic agitator, against an orthodox priest who did what he thought best in dealing with a confrontational, hostile person. The priest did the difficult thing–giving Communion would have been easy–and has been punished for it. What a wonderful message to send to Priests: do the courageous thing, and we’ll throw you under the bus. On the other hand, this is the same Archdiocese that has been openly hostile to Summorum Pontificum, as evidenced by the cancellation of the Pontifical EF Mass.

  63. robtbrown says:

    From the text of the letter, I cannot tell whether Guarnizo is prohibited from celebrating Mass even in private (he is certainly prohibited from public celebration), although the trend in such cases is to allow for private celebration.

    If the priest is not incardinated in DC, how could he be prohibited from celebrating mass in private by the DC archdiocese?

  64. AGA says:

    Dr. Peters, I do not question your sincerity. However, I’m many years out of college at this point and I am used to asking a lot of questions, not accepting something as if sitting in classroom dutifully taking lecture notes. I don’t mean to sound imperious, but I’ve had highly educated people working for me, to include lawyers and PhDs. I don’t come close to that level of education, but I’m used to asking questions regardless. I say this, I guess, as somewhat of an apology — I don’t come across as charitable all the time. But then again, I’m used to plain, direct talk among big boys. In my profession, we are very blunt and straightforward. (Not saying that you’re not a big boy) I accept my flaws, realizing not only do they limit my ability to convey my beliefs, but have professionally held me back too.

    Regarding not using my name or hiding behind my name… I wrote to your email address, with my full name and email address.

    I don’t work in the political or religious spheres and tend to not openly use my name in such forums. In fact there’s laws, such as the Hatch Act which prevent me from engaging publicly.

    That all being said, I do believe that good Catholics need help understanding how the laws of Church seem to state, “when in doubt, pass Him out”. Are you confident that the responsible Roman authorities would come down exactly as you have on this case? If not, what are the other views which are in the realm of possibility? Are there interpretations of, not just the applicable Canons, but other Church doctrine or teachings, which can be used to come to a different conclusion, especially one in favor of the priest?

    I don’t expect you to answer these questions. I just raise them as I sit in the back of Holy Mother Church watching this all play out. Accepting Church authority is a must for all Catholics. But to avoid the cognitive dissonance during these times of confusion, as we embrace Church decisions which seem to run counter to our sensus catholicus, it is helpful to see the larger context.

  65. irishgirl says:

    Poor Father Guarnizo-the Archdiocese sure threw him under the bus!
    Not good, not good at all!
    Why is it that good orthodox priests like him are punished for doing what is right (defending the Blessed Sacrament against profanation)?
    Why are our Bishops (some of them, not all, granted) not speaking up and ‘calling a spade a spade’ with regards to the evil that is homosexuality? Why are they so timid?
    I’d support Father Guarnizo over a diocesan bureaucrat like the auxiliary Bishop who threw him to the wolves, anyday!
    I wish the Bishops would act more like shepherds and less like political functionaries!
    Defend your good priests, Your Excellencies! Stand up for them and not let the militant homosexual lobby bully you into submission! Are you men, or are you mice?

  66. robtbrown says:

    AGA says,

    I don’t work in the political or religious spheres and tend to not openly use my name in such forums. In fact there’s laws, such as the Hatch Act which prevent me from engaging publicly.

    The Hatch Act prohibits a civil servant from actively taking part in a political campaign, but I don’t think it precludes expressing opinions on political and religious matters.

  67. DisturbedMary says:

    Can. 915 does not apply to the laity.
    After he told me he all the reasons why he was for same sex marriage and abortion, I informed my NY catholic state senator that if I found myself behind him on the Communion line, I would tap him on the shoulder and gently ask that he step off and make a spiritual communion rather than receive our precious Lord.

    When an evildoer comes at him to devour his flesh…..

  68. Ed the Roman says:

    Apologies in advance for the following geekfest:

    “I think I’ve heard it means the priest in question is defined in another header file or something like that…”


    Goodness! Does that mean he’s tainted? We’d better check his return type; if it’s void he’d better lose his preaching faculties, because “…my word shall not return to me void…”

  69. AGA says:


    I’ve had the Hatch Act used against me for “liking” a politician on Facebook, so I’m hesitant to push the limits.

    The government today is super-touchy about conservative political or religious speech.

    (Again, I apologize for demeaning Ed Peters with what was perceived as sarcasm.)

  70. Peggy R says:

    I don’t disrespect canon law or Dr. Peters’ presentation. I don’t know how a sincere priest like Fr. Guarnizo could have done otherwise, given what the woman communicated to him and in the manner she presented herself to him just prior to mass, according to reports. He did say something privately, according to reports. Reports also indicate he made a general statement about who could receive Our Lord just prior to communion at the mass.

    I just don’t see how Fr. Guarnizo could have given Our Lord to this woman and had a clean conscience. He made a judgment call erring on the part of love for the Lord and respect for the law, at least as he understood it. And he’s being punished. How will we prevail in the public square?

    Hey, we had to let go a priest who won’t celebrate the mass by the book. Bp. Braxton is open to visiting priests. Come to Southern IL, Fr. Guarnizo!

  71. JKnott says:

    Father Guarnizo homily

    Praying for this good priest.
    Diane@TeDeum Great comment and congratulations on your final OCDS profession of promises!

  72. kiwiinamerica says:


    Reaction to this case has been “an unedifying parade of misleading commentary about misapplied laws” ??? OK………that’s not too much condescension from a lawyer, I guess.

    There is the question of what the law actually says and then there is the question of its even-handed and disinterested implementation and enforcement. You’re discussing the former while many posters are distressed about the latter. You’re dissecting the Guarnizo case in isolation, while others here are viewing this in the context of the last 40+ years and wondering why ecclesiastical discipline is invoked so rarely in cases of alleged priestly misconduct?

    When was the last time the Archdiocese of Washington placed a priest on “administrative leave” (mustn’t say “suspended”, of course) for instance, and for what reasons? How does “precedent” play into this case? Looking back historically, precisely what must a cleric do in this Archdiocese to incur some form of censure or rebuke? In a lawless town (read “US Catholicism for the past 40 years”), where robbery and serious crime goes unchecked, there is a certain in-congruence attached to busting a man for jay-walking. This is, of course, the Archdiocese, where openly, proudly, no-pretense-at hiding-anything, pro-abortion Nancy Pelosi presents herself for Holy Communion. It’s a diocese where priests credibly accused of molesting children were allowed to continue in ministry.

    Furthermore, the Archdiocese has chosen to tell us that this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that this very same priest denied Holy Communion to a lesbian which generated wide national publicity in the secular press. OK, we’ll swallow it……….it’s just an amazing coincidence. Uh huh.

    Cut the people some slack. After years of episcopal laxness, corruption and ineffectiveness, folks are actually starting to get mad. Yes, difficult to believe, I know but true nonetheless.

    The reaction to this case is not “unedifying”. It’s entirely understandable.

  73. poohbear says:

    I’m certainly not as smart as others who post comments here, so please excuse this question, but…
    if the woman is not even Catholic, why is this still an issue? Non Catholics are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. I really don’t see the problem here, other than the Bishop involved bowing to public opinion. All this has done is confuse the average Catholic more than they already are.

  74. eulogos says:

    I just posted ONE comment, which has not appeared, and got a message, “You are posting comments too quickly, slow down. And my comment is goine. Maybe I hit post twice? Can my comment be retrieved? I am at lunch at work and must return to work, can’t rewrite it now.
    Susan Peterson

  75. eulogos says:

    Dr. Peters,
    Dr. Peters
    Do you *really* mean to say that after she told him in the sacristy that another woman was her “lover” and he told her not to take communion, and went to communion anyway (in his line, not the EMHC line which she could easily have done) that he should have given her communion? Didn’t the conversation in the sacristy fufill the requirements of having addressed the issue privately? He wanted to say more, but she left and he was prevented from following her.
    Is there anything someone could say in the sacristy according to your interpretation, which would make it so the priest could refuse communion? “I just gave my poor mother enough morphine so I hope she will be out of her suffering for good when I get home from mass.”? “I just got back from the abortion clinic; I am starting college in a month, I can’t have a baby, you know that…”?
    Communion until he can have a heart to heart?
    Susan Peterson

  76. eulogos says:

    Didn’t mean to write Dr. Peters name twice, sorry. The top one was hidden when I put the second one in.

  77. robtbrown says:

    AGA says:

    I’ve had the Hatch Act used against me for “liking” a politician on Facebook, so I’m hesitant to push the limits.

    Liking a politician is not the same as liking an issue.

    The government today is super-touchy about conservative political or religious speech.

    The govt can only be as super touchy as the law permits.

  78. AGA says:

    “The govt can only be as super touchy as the law permits.”

    Wouldn’t that be nice, Rob.

  79. Glen M says:

    “The essence of perfection is to embrace the Will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the Divine Will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God’s Will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God. St. John of Avila used to say, “One ‘Blessed be God’ in times of adversity is worth more than a thousand acts of gratitude in times of prosperity” It is certain and of Faith that whatever happens, happens by the Will of God.” St. Alphonsus de Liguori

  80. robtbrown says:

    AGA says:

    “The govt can only be as super touchy as the law permits.”

    Wouldn’t that be nice, Rob.

    If you think your rights as a Civil Servant have been violated, you can file a claim with the Office of Special Counsel.

    BTW, why do you refer to me as Rob?

  81. Cavaliere says:

    His or her rhetoric is emboldened by not having to take ownership of his/her views by using a real name.

    Fr. Z does not require that a person use a real name on his blog. Boy it takes some chutzpah for a guy who doesn’t allow comments on his own blog to go to another’s blog and criticize someone there for using an assumed “handle.”

  82. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Last post on this thread. The number of people who re-ask questions that I have answered I dunno how many times, is limitless, as are those who can carp about, well, whatever they want to carp about. So, okay, for those who want to start to understand, bottom line: approaching for holy Communion is one act, governed chiefly by Canon 916; giving holy Communion is another act, governed chiefly by canon 915 (atop a stack of other canons). To miss that distinction is to miss just about everything important here. To grasp it (and it won’t happen on a first reading) is to grasp what this case is all about.

    See this page:

    Kind regards, all. edp.

  83. Gulielmus says:

    It is a bit surprising to read how many have jumped to a conclusion that cannot, and may never be, proven– that she “told him in the sacristy that another woman was her “lover” and he told her not to take communion,” events which are in dispute. I am disinclined to accept her version of the events, but the several versions “heard by someone who told someone” are not especially compelling either.

    She should not have gone to communion, and he refused to give it to her. But that it was a trap, or that anything was said in the sacristy to imply that, is surmise. Even if reasonable surmise, we shouldn’t leap over that fact.

  84. robtbrown says:


    A priest cannot use private information to deny someone Communion. That is a violation of Internal Forum. [There is a difference between private and Internal Forum.]

    The same principle applies in men’s religious orders. The novice master, who recommends or not, novices for vows cannot hear the confessions of novices.

  85. robtbrown says:

    Should be: The novice master, who recommends novices for vows or not, cannot hear the confessions of novices.

  86. AA Cunningham says:

    The more I witness the actions of His Emminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl; as well as those of his subordinates, the more inclined I am to believe that the red color of his vestments represents his personal embarrassment at being a Catholic, not his willingness to be a martyr for the faith.

  87. iudicame says:

    Why didn’t we read THIS…

    “My Dear Fellow Priests & Brothers in Christ,

    Given the extremely stressful events of recent memory, we believe it is in Father Marcel’s best interest to grant him a period of rest and relaxation, etc., etc.

    Bishop Barry”

    And the bishop considers his priests as his sons????


  88. AGA says:


    I was referring to you by the first three letters of your username, rather than writing out the entire “robtbrown.” Didn’t mean any offense. Only wanted to direct my words to the right person, and apparently that worked.

  89. tcreek says:

    40 days for Life talk by Fr. Marcel. I don’t know if anyone has posted this.

  90. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Italics off.

    This is my standard rant that I always post on threads in which the question of using a pseudonym or a nom de plume instead of one’s real name comes up.

    Female users of the internet, especially females living in metropolitan areas, are highly advised by personal security experts never to post their real names on the internet except in those cases in which they must do so for business reasons (i.e., seeking employment, advertising an existing business, advertising a book she has written, etc.)

    I promised my husband faithfully always to use a nom de plume when posting any material that falls outside of these categories. Because I do agree that anyone posting comments on other peoples’ blogs ought to be transparent at least to the site owner, I usually email to the owner introducing myself using my real name, my hometown, and give a brief biographical sketch and some general contact information. That way, the blog owner may always contact me if he or she wishes to.

    Other than that, I maintain a strict policy of remaining as “unGoogleable” under my real name as possible. And to the extent that they are able to, I would highly encourage any female internet user to do the same.

  91. credoinunumdeum says:

    I’m confused. If she were publicly a homosexual and Buddhist, everybody knew it, and she really did go into the sacristy and publicly introduce her lover to Father (there are usually altar servers going in and out) and then there is a rather public outburst by the lady in question when Father told her not to come up for communion, it seems that Father was right. But if this all were private and she presented herself to Father as a lesbian-Buddhist and no one else knew she was a lesbian-Buddhist, then Father should give her what he knows will have damning consequences for her soul, as St. Paul said to the Corinthians. I thought a priest’s job is to save souls, not edge them further to the brink of hell. I also thought that in unclear cases, or where one is uncertain how to apply the law in a given case that charity is to guide. The law of Love is unto salvation, not damnation. Father is being castigated because he refused to slit the throat of a dying person and instead gave her life saving medicine… true charity.

    But I could be wrong. Father may have been a first class jerk about the situation and might look for reasons to deny people communion. I don’t know. Just my random thoughts.
    Last random thought… I get the feeling sometimes that Catholics have become legal positivists. Law is good. Legal positivism is bad. Thus endeth my desultory rant.

  92. acardnal says:

    @Marion Ancilla Mariae: Once again I wonder about your post and its pertinence to this blog post. I defer to Fr. Z.

  93. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    “I defer to Fr. Z.”

    Et ego quoque.

  94. acardnal says:

    You posted the exact same thing under “gift for a novice” post. I don’t get it.

  95. acardnal says:

    correction: “gift for solemn profession.”

  96. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Over on the other post, I wrote that I had posted my comment to the wrong thread, and would rectify the error. I even apologized. So here I am to post my comment in the correct thread; you, a cardnal continue to object. Only this time, I think, the objections are amiss.

    I could be wrong.

    For further evidence of the propriety of my comment, press F3; in the “Find” field, type “name”; then choose “next”, and you will see highlighted a series of remarks took place on this thread that were relevant to my poor offering.

  97. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    P.S. That is, if you’re using Explorer.

    If you’re using some other browser, your commands will likely be different.

  98. acardnal says:

    sorry. i don’t use Explorer.

  99. Denis says:

    Church law obliges bishops to permit and encourage the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, yet Archbishop Wuerl didn’t hesitate to deprive Catholics of this right when he cancelled the Pontifical TLM. I guess the rights of an anti-Catholic Buddhist lesbian agitator are more important to His Excellency than the rights granted by the Holy Father to Catholics attached to the Extraordinary Form. Maybe the Paulus Institute can get a Buddhist lesbian agitator involved in organizing the next Pontifical TLM in DC.

  100. BillyHW says:

    So disappointed in Wuerl and Knestout for throwing this poor priest under the bus instantly before even taking the time to investigate thoroughly what really happened.

    Also disappointed in the pope(s) who appointed them.

  101. fbcallicoat says:

    Fr. Z’s response to AGA’s concerns over scandalizing the faithful: ” [What I note at the end, is your appeal to your psychic powers. You know how people “out there” actually feel. I’d cut Prof. Peters a little slack. Perhaps he isn’t trying to be as dangerously deceptive as you have painted him? o{]:¬) ]”

    With all due respect Father, I think AGA is correct. I *am* scandalized by the seemingly never ending persecution of good orthodox men like Fr. G, in what seems to be a capitulation to the homosex activists. Perhaps if the Abp. or Bp. Knestout would issue a counter-statement reminding the faithful that unrepentant homosexuals are indeed ineligible for Communion.

    But no, none of us expect to hear that do we? Why?

    Because our Church’s leaders never seem to take the side of those Catholics who are struggling to remain faithful, over the self-proclaimed enemies of the Church.

    Really, AGA has it just about right for this Catholic. This whole episode has really and truly caused me to doubt the Church.

  102. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    fbcallicoat, it is indeed discouraging when the good are made to suffer and the wicked flourish not only among those who do not yet belong to Jesus, but even within His Church here on Earth. This sad state of affairs may well give rise to the temptation to doubt the Church which Jesus established.

    The Church on Earth began with the Twelve, most of whom argued among themselves about who among them was the greater; failed to grasp the Master’s teaching; expressed the wish to destroy those who didn’t accept them; thought they knew better than the Master how His mission should be accomplished and told Him so; instead of watching with Him in His hour of need, fell asleep; ran away when wicked men seized Him, hid themselves in fear when the crowd in the square called “crucify Him!”; abandoned their mission and returned to their former lives after the Master had been put to death, and even after He had arisen from the dead and appeared to them, continued to waver and to wonder.

    One of these actually betrayed Him to His enemies and later in despair hanged himself. One of these got almost everything right and stayed with His mother and the other women at the foot of the Cross. Only one. Out of twelve.

    And even after the Pentecost, Peter left his post, and Jesus had to ask him “quo vadis?”

    There is nothing wrong with the People of God writing letters, placing phone calls, and otherwise communicating to their shepherds that they want to see things changed for the better.

    But after all Jesus had to go through with His disciples for us, to doubt the Church He established because fallible men have continued to be fallible men through the ages down to our own time, would be to miss the whole point.

    We are all sinners. We all miss the point, fall short, and are derelict in our duty. Every single day – not just once, but often throughout every day. And we are all in this together. We are all of us stuffed into the equivalent of third-class steerage on a way overloaded ship, tossed about on the stormy seas of this world. It is dark, and the spray smashes across the decks and across us. We are sometimes thrown violently against the rails and against each other, and step on each other’s feet, and many of us are seasick. Our only hope even within the Church is the fact that the Master is here with us onboard. It’s Himself we can see up on the bridge atop the rest of the structure, and the light from the bridge glows reassuringly in the dark.

    That light – His Presence – is what reassures us, what makes us know that He is with us, that in spite of everything, no matter what, He is our Master and our Captain. Our job is to remain aboard and do our best to work together to be ready to execute His orders when they come.

  103. robtbrown says:

    AGA says:

    I was referring to you by the first three letters of your username, rather than writing out the entire “robtbrown.” Didn’t mean any offense.

    I’m not offended, just surprised–it’s just common knowledge that “robt” is an abbreviation for Robert.

  104. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    robtbrown wrote, “it’s just common knowledge that ‘robt’ is an abbreviation for Robert.”

    Although you intend “robtbrown” to be read as “Rob’t Brown” (Robert Brown), this undifferentiated amalgam of letters form a mash-up which to the uninitiated reader may convey either “Rob’t Brown” or “Rob T. Brown” (as in, for example, Rob Thomas Brown).

    Strategy: If you want other readers to “get” your user name without having to correct mistakes like this, help them to do so by using punctuation such as spaces and caps. And if you prefer not to use spaces and caps in a user name of more than three or four letters, then realize that to most readers, your name will appear as recognizable as “fnuftnmump.”

  105. jflare says:

    “I’m not offended, just surprised–it’s just common knowledge that “robt” is an abbreviation for Robert.”

    It is?
    That’s news to me.

  106. Mary Jane says:

    Seems to me this comment box discussion has derailed.

Comments are closed.