Big Bird's Catholic Doctrine Game: One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

Judie Brown
March 2, 2012
Reproduced with Permission

As a mother, I can recall playing the Sesame Street game, "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other," with our children when they were very young. The purpose of the game was to teach children how to discern obvious differences such as round objects versus square ones.

Today I find myself playing the game again, though the stakes are quite different. In the current game, I am attempting to distinguish those things that are destroying the Catholic Church in America from those that build her up.

Examine the following recent events and see if you can master the game.

Yesterday the United States Senate voted down the Blunt Amendment, a proposal that, it is said, would have negated the dictatorial Obama regulation that requires religious institutions to be a party to providing a full range of family planning/reproductive health services to employees under a health insurance plan administered by a health insurance company. Obama argues that the regulation does not violate religious conscience; religious leaders like the Catholic bishops argue that, in fact, it does.

Catholic doctrine lost one yesterday in the United States Senate - with the help of 13 Catholic senators.

Yet, in a story that offers hope for the Church, Father Marcel Guarnizo, from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was faced with a serious dilemma this past week when officiating at the funeral of a lesbian couple's family member. According to updates being posted by a faithful Catholic, Father Guarnizo was approached prior to the beginning of the Mass, in the privacy of the sacristy, by the lesbian couple. The report states,

The woman in question brought her lesbian partner into the vesting sacristy just before the funeral Mass and made sure to introduce her partner to Fr. Marcel, introducing her as her "lover." He told her then that she should not present herself for Communion. I have been to many Masses said by Father Marcel and he is a good and holy priest. He speaks very softly when giving out Holy Communion, almost whispering "Corpus Christi" - and did not publicly denounce her but rather said in a whisper [when she later approached for Communion] that he could not give her Holy Communion. He did feel sick at the end of Mass and made sure to have a replacement priest accompany the body and family to the cemetery.

In his effort to protect Christ from sacrilege, Guarnizo did exactly as is prescribed by the Church. This faithful priest privately gave the woman in question, Barbara Johnson, the opportunity to agree with him that, under the circumstances, she should not receive the body of Christ during the funeral Mass. When, during that Mass, Johnson defied Guarnizo and made a public attempt to receive the body of Christ anyway, she was politely denied the sacrament.

Father Guarnizo defended Christ from sacrilege. Catholic doctrine won!

But not quite. Within days of the event, which clearly made Father Guarnizo ill, the archdiocese stepped out in public to distance itself from the action of the priest! Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout wrote a formal letter of apology to Johnson telling her, "I am sorry that what should have been a celebration of your mother's life, in light of her faith in Jesus Christ, was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity."

In those few words the archdiocese portrayed the act of defending Christ from sacrilege as the opposite of "pastoral sensitivity."

Catholic doctrine lost again!

The score is now two for the forces of evil, one for Christ.

Is this perhaps why the USCCB is losing the struggle on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and anywhere else where it attempts to defend secular principles? Could it be that inconsistency has cost the Church a great deal of spendable grace?

One of these things is most definitely not like the other.

Yet, as one of my heroines, Mary Ann Kreitzer, wrote regarding Father Guarnizo,

I want to publicly thank Fr. Marcel Guarnizo for his courage. We have all seen the hateful retaliation and "jamming" (viciously attacking) against anyone who disagrees with the homosexual agenda. (I have personally experienced it often in blog comments with the writers hoping I die a miserable death because of my "hate.") Fr. Guarnizo is in the crosshairs at present. Pray for him and you might consider going to the parish website and leaving a message of encouragement. Fr. Guarnizo speaks the truth against some of the greatest moral evils of our time. He deserves our thanks and admiration. Please fast and pray for him this Lent [and] for those who vilify him. May they come to understand that he is trying to save them from the abyss.

Please fast and pray for the Church, for the bishops, for the enemies of truth, and for every heroic Catholic priest who stands up for that truth who is Christ.