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Chicago Area Priest Removed Over Relationship With Adult Man

By Kate Shepherd in News on Oct 5, 2015 8:27PM

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe Facebook

Catholic Archbishop Blase Cupich has removed a popular suburban priest from the ministry because of an, "inappropriate relationship with an adult man." the Chicago Archdiocese announced in a statement this weekend.

Rev. Marco A. Mercado, the rector of the Shrine of our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, will move away from the shrine and be replaced by Rev. Adan Sandoval Duron, the head of the archdiocese's Hispanic council, in the interim. The shrine attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims every year on her feast day, Dec. 12.

Mercado's known for his work in the Hispanic community especially concerning immigration reform and even attended Pope Francis' address to Congress last month at the invitation of Rep. Luis Gutierrez, according to the Tribune.

"As a human being I am not perfect, but as a priest my priority has always been the work of the Gospel and the struggle for immigrants and the most vulnerable," Mercado said in a statement, the Tribune reported. "I pray that this issue is resolved soon, and I ask for your prayers, at the same time that I apologize if this scandal has caused any hardship to the faithful."

The archdiocese said in a statement that they are "committed to ensuring those serving our parishioners are fit for ministry." Due to strict celibacy rules established hundreds of years ago, priests aren't permitted to have sexual relationships with anyone. A priest in Pilsen was removed earlier this year for breaking his celibacy vows in a relationship with a woman five years ago.

The Catholic Church is still against all gay and lesbian relationships. Last week, the Vatican removed Polish priest Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa after he called for a change in church teachings that say homosexuality is sinful and admitted that he is in a relationship with a man.