You Say Tomato....

Thomas Peters, over at CatholicVote.org, has taken me and others to task for writing that Father Marcel Guarnizo was suspended from ministry. He points out, citing his father who is a canon lawyer, that suspension is a canonical term, requiring a canonical process. True enough, but the verb "to suspend" is also a word in common English usage and the English language is richer than canonical nomenclature.

In the event, it is a distinction without a difference. Fr. Guarnizo had his faculties stripped and he was put on administrative leave. For most of us, that sounds a lot like a suspension. More to the point, it is not clear why the Archdiocese would initiate a canonical process when Father Guarnizo is not a priest of this archdiocese. Cardinal Wuerl can simply do what he has done - strip his faculties and cut him lose. If Father Guarnizo wants to return to his home diocese, he may do so, and it will be up to his ordinary there, not in Washington, to offer a letter of credentials as to whether or not he is a priest in good standing, to confer faculties with that diocese, etc.

But, what is especially galling is that Peters said I produced no evidence for the claim that Guarnizo displayed other instances of a troubling lack of judgment besides denying a woman communion at the funeral of her mother. For me, that would have been enough evidence of a lack of judgement to strip his faculties. But, as the letter read at Mass this weekend at Guarnizo's parish, the decision to strip him of faculties and put him on administrative leave was not based on that incident but on what the letter from the archdiocese characterized as "credible allegations" of "intimidating behavior." I would say that is evidence of a lack of judgement, no? I am not surprised young Peters doesn't see how horrific it is to deny someone communion at their mother's funeral, because he champions those who think the communion rail should be turned into a battlefront in the culture wars. But, why is he unwilling to take the word of the vicar general of the archdiocese, Bishop Baryy Knestout, that subsequent credible allegations of intimidating behavior warranted the action taken? Or is he just look to champion the cause of a culture warrior priest?

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I will wager a bet with Mr. Peters that Father Guarnizo, suspended or not, is unlikely to ever get another paycheck from the archdiocese of Washington.


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