By David Edwards
Friday, April 5, 2013 10:36 EDT
An openly gay man in New York says that the Catholic Church banned him from teaching religious instruction and his duties as a Eucharistic minister because he legally married his partner of 10 years.
Nicholas Coppola, 47, told WNBC that officials at St. Anthony?s Roman Catholic Church in Oceanside knew he was gay, but the church had to take action after receiving an anonymous letter complaining that a gay, married man was teaching religion.
?While not on a witch hunt, I know it would be of concern to you if a catechist were in fact ?married? as described,? the letter said.
Coppola pointed out that Rev. Nicholas Lombardi appeared to have ?a very heavy heart? when the decision was made to ban the decades-long church member from his regular duties.
?You could see it in his face,? Coppola said. ?I felt sad for him that he had to make this decision. In fact, he?s still struggling with this now and it?s sad.?
?Shunned, felt like somebody who wasn?t worth the effort,? Coppola told WPIX, recalling his reaction to the ban. ?What was pointed out, you made a very public statement getting married, I think the question was asked why, I said I got married like any other loving couple.?
But the Archbishop of Washington on Easter Sunday explained to Fox News that he was worried that it was Catholics who would be shunned for opposing same sex marriage.
?The church is probably ? with 20 centuries of experience ? the most understanding of the human condition of any institution,? Cardinal Donald Wuerl insisted to Fox News host Chris Wallace. ?But at the same time, it does remind not only gay people but heterosexual people, straight people, you?re not supposed to be following a moral law apart from what Christ has said to us.?
?The only thing I worry about is someone saying to me, ?You, because you believe that sex is intended for marriage and because you believe that marriage is indissoluble and because you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman that somehow you don?t belong here, that somehow this is bigotry or this is hate speech.? That?s what I worry about. There has to be room enough in a society as large, as free as pluralistic as America to make space for all of us.?
Watch this video from WNBC, broadcast April 4, 2013.
View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.