Chicago priest: 'I'm gay and I'm a priest, period'

Wed. February 3, 2016 10:30 AM by News Staff

father michael shanahan

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Chicago Catholic priest comes out as gay

Chicago, IL - A Chicago Catholic priest has come out gay in an interview with The Washington Post.

"There's a level of witnessing here that's important for me to do," Father Michael Shanahan, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Chicago, told the Post in an interview published Sunday. "The Christian faith has a lot to say about the underdog, about the marginalized or the leper, the blind, the lame, the ostracized woman prostitute, widow, the little one.

"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 wasn't sure he wanted to use his real name in the article.

"He set the rules at the outset: He did not want to be identified in this article," Michelle Boorstein wrote. "But at the end of the first conversation, he said: I'm leaning towards using my real name."

Shanahan added that he did not know he was gay when he entered the priesthood.

In response, the Chicago Archdiocese released a one-sentence statement from Archbishop Blase Cupich to WBBM-TV:

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

Parishioners at the north side parish told WBBM-TV that Shanahan's sexual orientation "doesn't really matter."

Experts on religion and sexuality believe gay men represent a significant proportion of the 40,000 Catholic priests in the U.S., the Post article notes. Church teaching has kept most in the closet.