Gay Catholics: Cardinals’ Actions Contradict Their Fine Words

Over the Easter weekend, Cardinal Timothy Dolan spoke of the need to be more supportive of LGBT Catholics, and Cardinal Wuerl, saying that gay Catholics who married could be treated in the same way as divorced people, claimed that this would be “no great problem”.

They should have a few words with their colleague in the New York diocese of Rockville Centre, where for one gay Catholic who was deeply involved in contributing actively to his local parish, getting married turned out to be a very great problem indeed.

Gay man removed from Catholic parish involvement after getting married 


Nicholas Coppola (right) with his husband David Crespo

The media has made much ado about Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, wherein he claimed that the Roman Catholic Church needs to be better at welcoming gay and lesbian people. Cardinal Dolan also stated that the Catholic Church isn’t “anti-anybody” and should be a church for all.

But his words do not ring true for real life Catholics. In fact, as Cardinal Dolan was expressing his desire to have the church be open to all, one gay Catholic man was being stripped of his roles and responsibilities within his Long Island parish.

Nicholas Coppola is a parishioner at St. Antony’s Roman Catholic Church in Oceanside, New York. His involvement at the church included serving as a religious education instructor, lector, altar server, visitation minister for homebound members, as well as member of the Consolation Ministry and St. Vincent de Paul.

He has been completely out to his parish for years, and has had the support of his priest and fellow parishioners. Mr. Coppola and his husband, David were married on October 27, 2012. A number of parishioners attended their wedding.

- more at  San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.

The problems began when an anonymous letter to the bishop, alerting him to the fact of Coppola’s heavy involvement in parish ministry and of his wedding, resulted in a direct instruction to the parish priest, to remove Coppola from all his activities.

There is much in this story that is so obviously wrong, it’s hardly necessary to spell it out – from the scandal that a single anonymous complaint can cause so much harm to the good work being done in parish ministry; that the insistence on rigid adherence to doctrinal rules rather than the principles of love and service are completely contrary to the Gospel imperatives; and that singling out LGBT Catholics for this kind of doctrinal policing, but not others living in conflict with church teaching (think not only married couples using contraception, but also employers who do not respect workers’ rights) is clearly discriminatory.

More distressing is that this incident is very far from unique. It bears strong resemblances, for instance, to the case a few years ago of the Canadian altar server who was dismissed after a small group of parishioners complained that he had entered  a civil union with his partner – even though the man insisted that the relationship was celibate, and so not contrary to Church teaching.  Other examples include numerous cases of teachers, musicians and others who have been dismissed from their posts in church employment. SDLN lists some of these:

Nicholas Coppola is not the first Catholic to be persecuted by Roman Catholic hierarchy. Several employees of Roman Catholic parishes, schools, and related institutions have been fired for their support for marriage equality, no matter how public or private those beliefs have been. Dominic Sheahan-Stahl was uninvited to speak at the graduation of his alma mater in Michigan. Lennon Cihak was denied confirmation after urging people to vote against the anti-marriage amendment in Minnesota. Most famously in Maryland, Barbara Johnson was denied communion at her own mother’s funeral because she was gay.

“We continue to hear assertions from the hierarchy that the Roman Catholic Church is loving and embracing to all, but the experience of Nicholas Coppola and so many others run counter to those claims,” stated GLAAD’s Director of News and Faith Initiatives, Ross Murray. “Until the hierarchy stops persecuting those within its ranks who support full equality for LGBT people, its message of love and inclusion means nothing.”

Pope Francis is setting a clear example from the top of the church that pastoral sensitivity and service to all those in need, are of vastly greater importance that doctrinal purity.  The recent statements by Cardinals Dolan and Wuerl suggest that they are ready to follow his lead.

It’s time for Bishop William Murphy too, to get that memo. His diocese, Rockville Centre, is technically a suffragen diocese of Cardinal Dolan’s own Archdiocese of New York, which makes Dolan Bishop Murphy’s immediate superior. One letter produced an immediate response from the bishop. Perhaps a deluge of letters in objection to Cardinal Dolan, challenging him to demonstrate his fine Easter words with action to match, could result in an appropriate letter from him, to Bishop Murphy – demanding that Mr Costello be reinstated in his valuable ministry and service in the parish of St. Antony’s , Oceanside,


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12 comments for “Gay Catholics: Cardinals’ Actions Contradict Their Fine Words

  1. Chris Sullivan
    April 3, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Do you have an email address for Cdl Dolan ?

    God Bless

    • April 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Sorry, Chris, I don’t. But from the diocesan website, I do have a postal address and telephone number:

      Cardinal’s Office

      1011 First Ave
      New York, NY 10022

      Contact: Cardinal Timothy Dolan
      Phone: 212-371-1000

  2. Mark from PA
    April 4, 2013 at 12:40 am

    It makes me think of how a German Catholic who married someone who happened to have Jewish blood, would have been treated when the Nazis were in power. I wonder how many Catholic with Jewish blood lost their lives in the holocaust and how people in the Church looked the other way while they disappeared. They are treating this man as if he were a Jew.

  3. Phil
    April 4, 2013 at 2:20 am

    Selective text will never justify your lifestyle, and you are wrong to mislead people. You left out the following quote:

    “But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally,” Dolan said.

    “…while claiming to be wise, they became fools….”their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them…they hate God.”

    If you are honorable, you would never mislead souls astray.

    • April 4, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      There’s selective, and then there’s selective. You are also selective,in quoting a single verse, which the Pontifical Biblical Commission explicitly warns us not to do. Read that verse, which concludes one chapter, and the following chapter as a single unit (remembering that the division into chapters was an arbitrary late addition), and there’s an entirely different message:

      2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

      More important, the precise meaning and relevance of the verse you quote is disputed by many experts in biblical exegesis who take into account the full historical and social context of the times (again, as the pontifical biblical commission insists we should do). There are no more than a half dozen verses, of dubious relevance, that even appear to condemn same – sex activity – and none of these appear in the Gospels, and none have anything to do with loving and committed relationships, as we know them today. On the other hand, there are numerous examples of supportive texts – the love of Jonathan and David, Jesus’ example in going willingly to the home of same – sex couple (the Roman centurion and his sick “boy”), are just two examples among many others.

      You are right to criticize selective quotation – but space frequently makes it impossible to do otherwise, and you make the same mistake yourself.

  4. Hope Ann Faith
    April 4, 2013 at 2:25 am

    The church is not against gays (hence the parishioner could participate before the ‘marriage’), but is against homosexual acts. The church cannot condone gay marriage (and the bishop had to take action to remove the parishioner from church posts): What ‘Gay Marriage’ supporters need to know about Catholicism

    • April 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      The Church is “against” many things – but how often do parish priests “take action” against married couples who are using contraception? Or against employers who refuse to pay a decent wage or recognize workers’ rights?

  5. April 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    To be fair to Dolan, he said gay marriage would not be a “great” problem. Apparently, for him, it would still be a problem.

  6. Phil
    April 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Terence, thank you for your rebuttal and allowing me to reply, but you are mistaken on several points; and opinions (mine or yours or anyone’s) don’t count if one is truly interested in getting to heaven via the Catholic Church which is the only Church Jesus Christ instituted for the salvation of humankind.

    And of course, that requires obedience to it’s teaching as well, as we see below from James:

    “For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.” “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.” “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him”?

    Good works equate to obedience, not to self-indulgence or mis-representation or mis-interpretation outside the Church Christ shed His Blood for.

    May I simply point out your errors according to Jesus Christ and His Church then:

    1. The text of Romans about the evil of homosexual behavior and acts would be selective if it were ambiguous and subject to considerable need for interpretation. However, it is so obvious that a grade schooler could correctly interpret it. While not going out of my way to offend you or anyone else who would propose that Romans 1 requires further interpretation in order to understand it, it is as simple to understand as saying, “Honey, I’ll have some oatmeal for breakfast if that’s what your are preparing.”

    I ask, could such a statement ever be considered to mean “Honey, it’s cold out and I need my long johns, could you check in the wash room for me?”

    There are some Bible teachings hard to understand, but homosexuality is not one of them.

    The following from Romans hardly needs a sin-justifying interpretation coming from those outside the Church for a correct interpretation:

    ….”their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.”

    Anyone’s attempt to mis-interpret and mis-represent Romans also can be seen for the damage to souls it can cause for those seeking the truth, or those who are easily persuaded to follow the ‘wide and easy road to perdition’.

    2. Your inference about JUDGMENT, that is, judging others, is very mis-leading.

    The Bible is FULL of examples and verses that demonstrate there are TWO types of judgment. 1. The judgment of the soul by Christ as to where a soul will spend all eternity, and 2. the judgment about sin.

    To wit:

    A. ETERNAL JUDGMENT: “Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” Hebrews. And as a Catholic, you surely know that the Particular Judgment comes first.

    Jesus spoke about eternal damnation not 8 times, not 18 times, but 28 times in the NT.

    B. JUDGMENT OF SIN: “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” Galatians.

    “But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality… not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 1 Cor 5

    See also Matt 18 and Ezekiel 3 which state the same thing regarding “correcting your brothers and sisters, admonish the sinner” etc. In fact, Ezekiel 3 makes it abundantly clear that we will receive punishment for NOT informing the sinner in spiritual matters.

    Lastly, and this is the most important point.

    3. Who does indeed have the proper and true authority to interpret the Bible correctly when questions arise?. Just any old exegesis that attempts to justify one’s sinful interpretation?

    If we get this point wrong, then everything else falls.

    So, which came first, the Bible or the Teaching Church?

    Answer: The Teaching Church.

    “To you Peter do I give the keys of the kingdom, whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church.”

    Therefore, we would be calling Jesus a liar if we prefer our own interpretations to the Bible, other than what the Church teaches.

    The Bible did not come into existence until approximately 350 years later after it was determined by the Church, which of the Gospels and letters were authentic.

    There were numerous (some sources say hundreds) of writings claiming to be authentic after the time of Christ, examples are:

    The Gospel of Judas and the Gospel of Thomas, Epistle of Barnabus, Gnostic Basilides (c.130) and Valentinus (c.140). Valentinus wrote ‘The Gospel of Truth’ and the ‘Epistle to
    Rheginus on Resurrection. There was the Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Matthias, Gospel of Glaucias, Acts of Andrew, Acts of John, etc.

    And Irenaeus, one of the Fathers of the Church in about the year 170, declared that “The heretics boast that they have many more gospels than there really are. But really they don’t have any gospels that aren’t full of blasphemy.”

    There was also Marcion. Marcion the wealthy heretic who lived in the first half of the second century and tried to bribe the Church in Rome by accepting only Paul’s writings and by purifying the Gospel of Luke from whatever he thought was Jewish, and said, “This should be the scripture for the church, and this should be the only scripture for the church.” The Roman church became very suspicious of his manipulations with the Gospel of Luke. It is reported that they gave the money back to him and said, “Thank you very much, but we don’t want you and your gospel…”

    Research will uncover more un-faithful writings.

    Someone had to determine which writings were authentic.

    In the early fourth century Christianity was made the official religion of the Roman Empire and it became possible for the bishops to meet without being imprisoned or killed by the pagan authorities. Beginning in the late fourth century and continuing until the very early fifth century the Catholic Church met at a number of councils where the canon of the Bible was debated. These councils produced canons which were identical to the current 73 book Roman Catholic canon.

    The first historical Council to determine the proper canon was the Council of Rome 382 AD and can be read on the internet.

    That was about 350 years AFTER Christ rose into heaven and authorized his apostles, (the Church) to preach the Gospel. And, it was about 1,000 years later that the Bible was printed for general use for the first time.

    The Bible does not tell us that Scripture is the “Pillar and foundation of truth.” The Bible tells us that the Church is: 1 Tim 3:15. That’s not to say the Bible does not contain the truth, but rather that the Church alone has the authority to properly interpreted the Bible when questions arise.

    And I present it for each soul to decide for themselves as we say in the Catholic Church, “Get the facts, decide for yourself.”

    Catechism of the Catholic Church:
    2357 “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

    Of course, we continue to love the sinner, and hate the sin. That will not change. But to remain silent would be to falsify the truth.

    Therefore, one cannot separate Church teachings from Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” along with HIS Catholic Church.

    We need both to do the Will of God.


    • April 4, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks for your magnanimity in pointing out my “errors”. Forgive me if I do not waste any more time in pointing out yours.

  7. Phil
    April 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    The Church and Christ are inseparable. I don’t have opinions to offer, as you offer Terence. Opinions lead souls astray, and that I do not want to be guilty of at the Particular Judgment.

    I hope you do not hold to your opinions which oppose Jesus Christ and His Church.

    “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you…bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

    “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment … if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot… then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.”

    We simply need to ask if God is joking:

    If we insist that God is a joke, then read no further.
    Still, may the Peace (and truth) of Christ be with you Terence.

    “Stop for a moment and reflect on yourselves and on the transience of this your earthly life. What do you want? Which way do you want to set out on?” “CHOOSE.”

    DOES HELL EXIST? Or, shall we choose not to think about it?
    St. Faustina has words of Heavenly Wisdom to offer those who seek Absolute Truth:

    Sister Faustina’s Vision of Hell

    “I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence…the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.” (Diary 741)

    “Today, I was led by an angel to the Chasms of Hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw:

    The First Torture that constitutes hell is:
    The loss of God forever.
    The Second is:
    Perpetual remorse of conscience.
    The Third is
    That one’s condition will never change.
    The Fourth is:
    The fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it. A terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God’s anger.
    The Fifth Torture is:
    Continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own.
    The Sixth Torture is:
    The constant company of Satan.
    The Seventh Torture is: Horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.
    These are the Tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings.

    Indescribable Sufferings
    There are special Tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned (unrepentant abortions, homosexuality, etc.).

    There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me.

    No One Can Say There is No Hell
    Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is like…how terribly souls suffer there!

    Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God’s mercy upon them. O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin.” (Diary 741)

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