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Priest 'Placed On Leave' After Denying Communion To Lesbian

The Gaithersburg, Md., priest who refused to give Communion to a lesbian parishioner during a funeral mass for the woman's mother has been has been placed on leave, according to NBC Channel 4 news.

A letter from an archdiocese official says that Rev. Marcel Guarnizo was placed on leave for engaging in intimidating behavior. The archdiocese had previously apologized for Guarnizo's behavior.

Guarnizo said he could not administer the sacrament to Barbara Johnson because she was a sinner.

"He put his hand over the body of Christ and looked at me and said, 'I can't give you Communion because you live with a woman, and in the eyes of the church, that is a sin,' " Johnson recalled in a story last month published by The Washington Post.

Johnson had asked for the priest to be removed.

In the letter of apology to Johnson from the archdiocese, Rev. Barry Knestout, a high ranking church administrator, said the lack of "kindness" that Johson endured at the service "is a cause of great concern and personal regret."

According to NBC 4:

The archdiocese also issued a statement after the funeral saying that any action against the priest will remain confidential because it is a personnel issue.

Johnson's family has said it hopes the action against Guarnizo will ensure that others don't endure the same treatment.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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