Archdiocese removes suburban priest for 'inappropriate relationship with a man'

DES PLAINES, Ill. (WLS) -- A priest was removed from a north suburban parish by Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich for having "an inappropriate relationship with a man."

Rev. Marco Mercado was the rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines and also served as Archbishop Cupich's delegate to Hispanic ministries.
An announcement was made during Sunday's Mass, the first day after the news came out.

"I really liked him a lot, but the news that came out is kind of sad, a shock to other people too," said parishioner Krystal Nieves.

Rev. Mercado is a prominent Latino priest, well-respected, and well-loved by many. Recently, Father Mercado was Congressman Louis Gutierrez's guest to see Pope Francis address Congress.

Many parishioners learned about his removal for the very first time Sunday morning.

"It's not going to be the same because Father Marco did everything for us," parishioner Socorro Salcar said. "Before, this place was so empty no people, and when Father Marcos come in here, we have a lot of people in here. Father Marco bring us in here."

Some say although they respect the rules of the Catholic Church, adjustments should be made and they plan to pray for and fight for the reverend's return to the church.

"Definitely I will pray for him," said parishioner Linda Juarez. "Sometimes we are not aware of the things we are doing and maybe he wasn't thinking about what he was doing and definitely pray for him."

The priest did release a statement saying in part: "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."

In a statement Sunday, the Archdiocese said in part about the reverend's removal: "The Archdiocese is committed to ensuring those serving our parishioners are fit for ministry. Archbishop Cupich knows this news will be difficult to hear and he offers his assurance of prayers and solidarity with the community at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe."

Father Mercado has been removed from the church officially and Rev. Adan Sandoval Duron has been put in place as an interim administrator.

Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich removed Father Mercado right before he headed to Rome for a bishops meeting on family issues. Mercado's removal comes a day after the Vatican dismissed a Polish priest who revealed his relationship with a man.
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