A priest who marched in a gay pride parade opposed by the Vatican has been removed as pastor of a small parish in southern Italy. The Reverend Vitaliano Della Sala said Saturday, regarding his removal by the local bishop, that he plans to take his appeal to the Vatican. "It seems unfair," he said by telephone from the town of Sant'Angelo a Scala. "A priest must defend the rights of those who are trampled upon." The Vatican's press office said Saturday that Della Sala's removal was handled by the local bishop, Abbot Tarcisio Nazzaro, and not by the Holy See. But Della Sala said he suspects that "there are pressures in Rome" behind his removal as pastor of St. James the Apostle Church.
In July 2000, tens of thousands of gays and their supporters marched through Rome to cap a week of World Pride activities. The Vatican had sought to persuade Rome's mayor to cancel the parade. Catholic teaching holds that same-sex sexual activity is sinful.