Sunday, March 18, 2012

Two Newspapers Earn Booby-Prizes For Lousy Reporting On Father Guarnizo's Situation

First booby-prize - the Washington Post (again!)

I suppose we can all be thankful that there are no looming disasters in the world that are of note.  How else could a rehash of the February 25 incident with Father Guarnizo have made it onto the front page of the Washington Post's Sunday edition?

Michael Rosenwald and Michelle Boorstein try to compare Father Guarnizo and Barbara Johnson, claiming that they are simply just two very different Catholics.   While that itself is laughable on its face, there are more things in this article to tickle the funnybone.  So let's proceed to unpack this sloppy excuse for journalism.

First, when the Post writes that Father "has essentially accused church officials of lying", they are referring to the statement that Father released this past Thursday.  I reproduced that in my post that day.  He simply relayed the facts as he saw them.  Had he remained silent, he himself would have lied in doing so.

A few paragraphs down, we read that Father "was known as a particularly intimidating protester in weekly demonstrations outside a Germantown abortion clinic."  That clinic would be the late-term facility operated by Leroy Carhart, who murders late-term babies.  Father has been instrumental in convincing some mothers not to have this done to their babies.  I suppose from the abortionists' perspective, anyone or anything that cuts into their profit margin is "intimidating".  Otherwise, the notion of Father being intimidating is silly when one considers that Father stands about 5'6" and is 130 pounds tops.

Moving on, we see mention of "much-debated canon law".  Canon 915 is actually quite clear in and of itself.  Yes, this is a canon that ministers of Holy Communion are bound (not "requested" but bound) to obey.  It is quite scandalous that the Archbishop of Washington DC holds this Canon in disdain.  Father upheld it.

Then we read of Mother of God Community, a charismatic community located across the street from the St John Neumann Church.  Father Guarnizo is a priest of the Archdiocese of Moscow.  The two religion writers of the Washington Post write this incredible statement: "The Catholic archdiocese in Moscow appears to be part of that community."  Do you think these "religion writers" should have done just a little research on these two entities?  For the Mother of God Community, all they had to do was search the Post's own archives for articles written in 1997.  Actually the history of Mother of God Community (at least a good-enough synopsis) is on the Post's own website!  Now here's an article from Wikipedia on Roman Catholicism in Russia.  Do these writers really believe that an entire archdiocese is an arm of a group of charismatic Catholics that runs out of a relatively small office complex on Goshen Road?  Do they have common sense?

Then the Post writers quote this less-than-authoritative comment from Fr Thomas Reese, SJ.: "If I was Cardinal [Donald W.] Wuerl, I’d buy him a one-way ticket to Moscow.   These days, arch-conservative priests feel much more comfortable attacking their bishops than do liberals because they feel they’ll get support from conservative Catholic blogs and maybe some in the Vatican."  The article states that Reese is the former editor of the liberal Catholic magazine "America".  They fail to mention why he's the former editor - in a nutshell, Pope Benedict XVI gave Reese the "heave-ho" as one of the first acts of his pontificate.  I mention that only to give an idea of Reese's credibility - or lack thereof.

Second booby-prize  - Our Parish Times!

What did they have to say?  Nothing!  Nada!  Zippo!  The page for St John Neumann is filled with the usual happy-clappy stuff - but not one peep about the funeral incident.  Please don't tell me that the paper went to print before it happened for I saw reports of other events that occurred as late as March 3, a week after the incident hit the Post and other media outlets.  The silence is deafening and disingenuous.  I might have expected that from the Catholic Standard, the Archdiocesan mouthpiece that would be itching to cover up the chancery's malfeasance.  But I thought that Our Parish Times was independent of the chancery's control.  That paper has gone downhill since Bob McCarthy's column disappeared.


  1. I am sorry that Fr Guarnizo did not stick to the high road in his situation, and instead he released to the media words at best challenging, and at worst implying that Cardinal Wuerl, Bishop Knestout, and Fr LaHood are all lying. This is not appropriate for a priest to do, no matter what diocese he claims to be under.

    1. We disagree on this. Father did what he had to do to protect not only his good name (and all associated with him) but to demolish an unspoken notion that priests must become the de facto sacrificial lambs and/or the paths of least resistance. I believe Father merely intended to tell the truth. If that has the consequence of revealing that the others spoke erroneously, those chips will have to fall where they will. Sometimes the truth is challenging and we just have to work through it, and stop demanding that good priests "fall on their swords" so that we don't have to work through the situation. I for one believe what he did was appropriate.

    2. I forgot to ask this question earlier.. Have you written to the chancery to ask them to "stick to the high road"? If not, then you're using "double-standards", aren't you?

  2. I think the Post article did a very good job of detailing Fr. Guarnizo's history. I had a feeling there was way more to the story that we didn't know. Now we are beginning to get the full picture. Please feel free to point out any Factual errors regarding his actions and associations prior to ending up in Gaithersburg. I agree completely with the other Anonymous above (we are not the same person) that it is not appropriate and, in fact, is highly unusual for a priest to imply that all his current superiors are lying. I think you are having a very hard time separating out his actions during the funeral Mass, and his alleged actions After the funeral Mass. I absolutely refuse to believe that Fr. LaHood set him up to be a de facto sacrificial lamb. Given Fr. Guarnizo's history, the credible allegations of intimidating behavior seem, well -- CREDIBLE. (His physical size is irrelevant and a red herring, unless you know for a fact that they meant physically intimidating. . . that was not stated.) Why aren't you concerned with protecting Fr. LaHood's (and the Bishop's) good name? BTW -- were you planning to let the Post know that it was actually Fr. LaHood who brought the Latin Mass to your parish (not Fr. Guarnizo), and the one who celebrates it every week? If not, then you're using "double-standards," aren't you? Telling the truth and all . . .

    1. Why do I have to let the Post know that Father LaHood brought the Latin Mass to the Church? That's not my job; I don't pretend to be a professional journalist. It's the Post people who pretend to be professionals. I think it's commendable that the Latin Mass is here, but that has little to do with Father Guarnizo's situation at the moment.
      I cannot answer at this time as to the details of Father Guarnizo's activities prior to his arrival at St John Neumann. But as they're stated in the Post, I don't understand their relevance to the events of February 25th and beyond.
      Father only told his side of the story. What's your problem with that? Are you having difficulties with his contradiction of the bishop? Do you have just as much of a problem with the lickety-split way that the chancery's "apology" came out, accusing Father of misbehavior? I bet you don't! Neither the progressives nor the powers-that-be in the chancery seem to like the fact that their designated scape-goat isn't rolling over and playing dead. Perhaps that's what they find so "intimidating"???


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