The Catholic right’s Wellstone moment

Mark Judge Journalist and filmmaker
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When you’re in the middle of a war, you don’t hand your enemy an atomic bomb.

The Catholic Church has just handed liberalism an atomic bomb.

The Washington Post is reporting that Barbara Johnson, a lesbian who lives with another woman, was recently denied communion at a Catholic mass in Maryland.

The mass was a funeral for Johnson’s mother. The priest, Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, denied her communion and then left the altar and did not show up for the burial.

This is a violation of basic human decency. I suppose that you could argue that because the Catholic Church is not supposed to offer communion to those who are causing public scandal, technically someone who publicly flaunts a homosexual relationship could be denied communion.

But come on. Barbara Johnson was at her mother’s funeral. She had mentioned to the priest that the woman with her was her “partner.” That could even mean that they are a celibate couple, or just friends. After all, the church does not claim that homosexual orientation is wrong, just homosexual sex. The Washington Post, shock, got this wrong in the original headline, claiming that Johnson was “told by priest her orientation is a sin.” The priest never said that — he said that Johnson living with another woman is a sin. For all we know, Johnson had gone to confession an hour before and was ready to receive communion. Lord knows I’ve presented myself at the altar when I haven’t been totally clean; indeed, Barbara Johnson may be closer to sainthood than I am — it wouldn’t be hard. Again, I think the church should deny communion to people who are causing public scandal. But with Barbara Johnson, this clearly was not the case.

Did I mention that Johnson was at her mother’s funeral?

The church, my church, needs to extend Johnson an apology. I have often written about how politics is the left’s religion and there is no sacred space that liberals will not violate in the name of Holy Progressivism. They turned the Paul Wellstone funeral into a Democratic rally. They are forcing Catholic hospitals to buy contraception. When Republican Tony Snow died of cancer, liberal readers celebrated the event in the comments sections of The Huffington Post and The Daily Kos. To the left, progressivism is religion and the state is God. Traditional Catholics are supposed to be better and smarter than our hysterical opposition. But this was our Wellstone moment.

That being said, and on a more minor note, I’m growing tired of liberals, especially Catholic liberals, running to the media or going public every time they have a beef with the church. The rebuke of Mrs. Johnson was no small thing, as it took place in the spiritual realm where our true selves are honored and revealed, and perhaps it is understandable that it wound up in The Washington Post. But the funeral was on Saturday, and the Post story appeared on Wednesday. That didn’t leave much time for the church to respond to Barbara Johnson’s complaint. She also seems short on forgiveness: “You brought your politics, not your God into that church yesterday,” she wrote to Fr. Guarnizo, “and you will pay dearly on the day of judgment for judging me. I will pray for your soul, but first I will do everything in my power to see that you are removed from parish life so that you will not be permitted to harm any more families.” Something tells me Gloria Allred is not far behind.

Different Catholic diocese can set their own rules about denying people communion. The Archdiocese of Washington says that Fr. Guarnizo violated its policy of not denying communion because priests do not know “what is in someone’s heart.” My advice to Barbara Johnson is to accept this and move on. But the realist in me knows that the Catholic left, like the left in general, is at war with traditional Catholicism — that is to say, real Catholicism — and that it will use this unfortunate incident to attempt to overturn the church’s teaching on, well, everything. They won’t be happy until Barney Frank is pope.

Another option, and one that will not be taken, is to simply leave the church. The Huffington Post recently ran a column by Soraya Chemaly entitled “I’m no longer Catholic. Why are you?” It was the usual argument from the left — claiming brave independence from Rome while embracing another faith, the faith of liberalism, which is twice as dogmatic and flawed through and through. I would encourage outraged liberals to simply leave the church. Just walk away.

Of course, if that happened, there would be no one left to coerce. The Episcopalians? They’d make Barbara Johnson a bishop.

Mark Judge is the author of A Tremor of Bliss: Sex, Catholicism, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.