Join Nicholas Coppola to urge Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics in the US

A petition asking Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics during his upcoming visit to the U.S. has been launched by GLAAD and Nicholas Coppola, a devoted Catholic, out gay man, and prolific LGBT advocate.

Encouraging the Pope to hear LGBT people's stories and their alienation from Catholic hierarchy could help strengthen the Catholic community and meet pressing pastoral needs, Nicholas wrote in the petition:

We strongly believe this meeting would promote great healing and reconciliation in our Church and society.

For almost a decade, I've been a parishioner at St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church in Oceanside, New York -- serving as a religious education instructor, lector, altar server, visitation minister for home-bound members, as well as member of the Consolation Ministry. But after David and I got married, the bishop took away of all of my roles and responsibilities, just for marrying the man I love.

This rejection hurt us terribly, and sent a dangerous message to LGBT people of faith everywhere.

In the U.S. and around the world, LGBT people experience alienation from the Church, higher rates of poverty and violence, and discrimination in employment, housing, educational opportunities, and access to health care.

The Pope can help address this crisis by meeting with LGBT Catholic families like mine and hearing our stories of perseverance, hope, and struggle.

This meeting would be an incredible first step towards healing together – and towards bringing us greater justice in the U.S. and across the globe.

Sign the petition here.

Coppola and GLAAD launched this petition with hopes for change from Pope Francis, who is considered by some to be perhaps the most progressive Pope yet. Within just days of launching, the petition garnered nearly 5,000 signatures from around the world. With the Papal Visit right around the corner, many anticipate an opportunity to further acceptance and support for LGBT people of faith.

"As a gay catholic growing up with the institutional church, I felt a lack of unconditional love and acceptance from the pulpit. This caused much sorrow and spiritual turmoil but thankfully, God blessed me with many Spirit filled priests and religious who showed God's love for me. So thank you for acknowledging our dignity as God's creation and beloved. This LGBTQ community however, is...still vilified and still rejected in some churches. Some even keeping our community and allies from meeting with you. How hurtful it is to have these doors shut in front of us. It sends the wrong image of who God is : God's desire to have a relationship with us," explained one petition-signer.

Another woman, writing why she signed onto the petition, noted that even though she is not an LGBT person, the cause hits close to home. "I'm signing because I am a Catholic mother of a gay son and a lesbian daughter who should be able to marry the ones they love and not be treated as "less than" for living authentically out of who they were created to be," she said. She was among the many respondants to leave notes capturing the petition's importance.

Nicolas Coppola has created a petition in the past when he was barred from continuing his duties at his home parish in New York, simply because he is gay, after an anonymous letter was sent to Bishop William Murphy of the Rockville Centre Diocese notifying him of Coppola's marriage to his husband in 2012. At the parish, he served as a religious education instructor, lector, altar server, visitation minister for homebound members, and as a member of the Consolation Ministry and St. Vincent de Paul.

Since his rejection from his church, Coppola (also a former GLAAD intern) has been working to accelerate acceptance for the LGBT community.

In July, GLAAD's President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and DignityUSA's Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke signed and sent a letter to the Pope urging him to meet with LGBT Catholics. The letter states LGBT individuals have "experienced a resurgence of hope for full acceptance" within the Church. It asks the Pope to hear LGBT people's stories and rectify the lack of LGBT support from the Catholic Church's hierarchy.

Additionally, in August, GLAAD's The Papal Visit: A journalist's guide to reporting on Pope Francis and the LGBT community was released as a resource for members of the media to generate fair, accurate, and inclusive coverage of LGBT topics in relation to the Pope's visit.

Be sure to ask Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics during his visit here.