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Chicago Priest Comes Out As Gay

(CBS) – The Chicago Archdiocese is responding to a published report in which a local priest comes out as gay, but it wasn't clear whether there would be ramifications for the clergy member.

In a column by Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein, Rev. Michael Shanahan is interviewed at length about his decision to disclose that he is gay.

"I'd like to be one of those priests, who, with great respect for the church's teaching, can say: I'm a human being. I'm a son — one of six — I'm gay and I'm a priest, period," Shanahan, a more than 20-year veteran of Chicago parishes, is quoted as saying.

A Michael Shanahan is listed as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Chicago's North Side. In response to inquiries from CBS 2, a spokesperson for the Chicago Archdiocese on Monday said Shanahan would not comment and released a one-sentence statement from Archbishop Blase Cupich:

"We support all our priests as they live out the promises they made on the day of their ordination."

Shanahan's published remarks come in the wake of declarations by Pope Francis that gay members of the church should not be judged or "marginalized."

Can openly gay men be priests? Amid allegations last year the Archdiocese of Newark had effectively disciplined an openly gay clergy member, a spokesperson for church leaders there said being gay does not preclude a man from being a priest, provided he upholds his vow of celibacy.

Thomas O'Brien, director of DePaul University's Center for Religion, Culture and Community, agrees that is the general policy church leaders are following.

"All priests are required to be celibate, regardless of sexual orientation," he said in an email to CBS 2. "That policy does not vary from diocese to diocese, although different dioceses do approach violations of celibacy in distinct ways depending on the leadership style of the bishop and his administration."

Mildred Soriano, who attends Mass occasionally at Our Lady of Lourdes, said she doesn't care about Shanahan's sexual orientation.

"It doesn't really matter, as long as he believes in God. It doesn't matter to me at all. We're all God's children," she told CBS 2's Derrick Blakley.

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