Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre has returned the 18,000 petitions collected on behalf of Nicholas Coppola, a parishioner who was ousted from ministry in St. Anthony’s parish after marrying his partner.
The Washington Post is reporting that Bishop Murphy returned the petitions, which were collected from those in favor of Coppola’s reinstatement at the parish, with a cover letter stating simply: “From your faithful Roman Catholic bishop.”
The signatures were collected for Coppola by homosexual activist groups and delivered to the diocese three weeks ago amidst much media fanfare. In an effort to make the number of the petitions seem greater, they were delivered in three boxes – two of which were completely empty. The plan backfired when the diocese revealed the farse to the press.
“I really don’t understand what sort of message Bishop Murphy is trying to send,” Coppola said in a statement provided by GLAAD, a gay rights organization that has also been helping him. “Is he no longer listening to the voices of the faithful? I have more questions than anything now.”
However, Bishop Murphy knew exactly what he was doing when he returned the petitions to their originator – Faith in Public Life, a social justice lobby based in Washington DC – rather than to Coppola. The whole affair with Coppola was a public relations ploy staged by gay activist groups.
According to diocesan spokesman, Sean Dolan, the petitions were delivered to diocesan offices in way that was staged for the media and “designed to misinform the press and the intended recipient.”
“All legitimate correspondence sent to the Office of the Bishop either by email or regular U.S. Mail is responded to,” Dolan told the Post in a statement. “Online petitions of this nature lack legitimacy (and) are not considered correspondence and therefore do not warrant a response.”
Activist groups are now working on a new petition drive to pressure Cardinal Timothy Dolan into attending a “get to know you” dinner with Coppola and his partner.
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