Political Flavors

When Bill Donahue Is Right

Posted in Editorials on May 20th, 2013

Nicholas Coppola married his husband in October 2012. He is also Catholic and was active in his parish as a lector, a Eucharistic minister who visited ill and housebound Catholics, a member of the consolation ministry, a member of the St. Vincent DePaul society, and a religious educator.

In January, the pastor at St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Oceanside stripped Coppola of his jobs as a religious education teacher, lector and visitation minister. A top aide to Murphy had conveyed concerns to the parish after the bishop received an anonymous letter pointing out that Coppola wed his partner under New York’s new gay marriage law.

In response, 18,500 people signed a petition on the website of “Faithful America” a progressive Christian organization – asking for Coppola to be reinstated. How did the Diocese of Rockville Centre respond?

The diocese rejected his reinstatement request, saying Coppola was fired because “by marrying under New York State’s same-sex marriage law, he took a public position against church teachings.”

“The Catholic Church recognizes that all persons share equally in the dignity of being human and are entitled to have that human dignity protected,” Diocese spokeman Sean Nolan said in a statement last week. “This does not, however, justify the creation of a new definition for marriage, a term whose traditional meaning is of critical importance to the furtherance of fundamental societal interests.”

Bill Donahue from the Catholic league called the 18,500 people who are loving their neighbor, “bullies.”

The American people respect the autonomy of religious institutions to craft their own rules and regulations, and they do not look kindly on bullying.


Here’s the problem. Bill Donahue is wrong that the people who signed the Faithful America petition are bullies. They’re not. They are misguided people who for some reason think that the Catholic Church is a democracy or cares about public opinion. And that’s where I am inclined to agree with him.

The internal affairs of the Catholic Church are not the business of the public, and this includes outside advocacy groups as well as government agencies. Among the internal issues of the Church are employment decisions. Just as it is the right of a yeshiva to insist that its employees abide by Judaic strictures, it is the right of a Catholic school to insist that its employees respect Catholic teachings. Regrettably, GLAAD, Dignity and Faithful America show nothing but contempt for this verity.

I would disagree that Coppola is an “employee.” He’s not, he’s a volunteer. I also have a different view on the “contempt” that GLAAD and Fathful America are acting upon. They are not acting out of malice. I would call it righteous anger. I think that they are right to support Coppola, and to be outraged on his behalf. He did a lot of work for many years for his parish and he was cast aside for no other reason than bigotry based on a deeply flawed religion. But if they think that the Catholic Church can ever, or will ever be changed, they are sorrily mistaken.

One Response to “When Bill Donahue Is Right”

  1. Kate Anne Says:

    As someone who was thrown off the altar (for writing one too many pro-choice letters-to-the-editor) — but it was okay for me to continue helping at Bingo — and who later became Episcopalian, I would like to believe there is still hope for the Catholic Church. I’d like to believe that those of us who walk away make a statement that might help eventually wake them up. My gay brother eventually walked away too. How many of us can they afford to lose? There is hope a more progressive God will also help wake them up. There are some signs: Hey, at least Pope Francis is speaking out on other justice issues. But gays and women remain second-class in the RC Church. More of us should leave.

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