Ousted Long Island gay parishioner to seek reinstatement

Long Island news from Eyewitness News

April 11, 2013 1:31:25 PM PDT
47-year-old Nicholas Coppola says his church always gave him a sense of purpose, but on Thursday that purpose was far different.

Nicholas and supporters delivered petitions to his diocese. The petitions were signed by more than 18-thousand people asking that the diocese not remove him from his work here at St. Anthony's Church in Oceanside because he's gay. He is also now openly married to his longtime partner.

"Maybe the bishops can really get to know us. Invite us and sit with us and maybe come to our homes and know who we are, just like any other loving, married couple," Coppola said.

Until now, Coppola was very active here at St. Anthony's Church. He was a Eucharistic minister to the homebound, even assisted his priest in church during communion and he helped with religious instruction. But then someone wrote an anonymous letter calling it a "serious situation?the problem is that he is a homosexual...he was recently married to another man?and, with all that the catholic church has been dealing with and trying to stop - why is this permitted?"

"It was faxed to Father Nick Lombardi, my pastor, who again, was directed by the diocese that he had no choice, and he had to remove me," Coppola said.

And so with the support of the groups, Glaad and Faithful America, Coppola brought in the petitions, but the Diocese of Rockville Centre was quick and stern in its response. It was also somewhat critical of a photo op with 3 boxes. Their statement: "in fact, 2 boxes were empty? the Catholic Church recognizes that all persons share equally in the dignity of being human... This does not, however, justify the creation of a new definition for marriage."

The diocese says anyone in public ministerial positions must take public positions consistent with Catholic teachings.

Coppola married his partner last October under the state's same-sex marriage law.