Irish priest reveals he is gay during Mass

St. Nicholas of Myra, Francis Street, Dublin, Ireland(Photo: Wikipedia)

A Catholic priest from Ireland made an unexpected move during a Saturday night Mass by coming out to his congregation.

Father Martin Dolan of the Church of St Nicholas of Myra in Francis Street in Dublin announced "I'm gay myself" while he was asking his congregation to back gay marriage in the forthcoming Irish referendum, according to the Irish Central.

The cleric, who has served in the parish for 15 years, also admitted his homosexuality during the Sunday morning liturgy.

Churchgoers met his revelation with a standing ovation.

Community youth worker Liz O'Connor told the Irish Sun, "We are all very proud of Father Martin. Because he has admitted that he is gay, he doesn't change the person that he was before it."

The Guardian reports that gay equality groups in Ireland also applauded Dolan's decision to come out and take a stand.

Meanwhile, Dolan's support of gay union is not echoed by the Catholic Church as it remains firmly opposed to same sex marriage.

Former Pope Benedict XVI said gay marriage denies God and devalues human dignity.

Current head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis, though calling the clergy and the faithful to help parents with gay sons or daughters "stand by" their children, maintains that homosexual marriage is still something that "has not crossed our minds."

In December, Bishop Liam MacDaid said during a news conference, "To put any other view of unions on the same level as Christian marriage would be disservice to society rather than a service."

"In a same sex union, children would be deprived of what a man and woman can give to children in a stable marriage," he added.

The Irish referendum on same sex marriage is scheduled at the end of May. According to a recent poll, 20 per cent of Ireland's population are opposed to gay marriage, 67 per cent are for it. Enda Kenny, the country's prime minister, is among those who have voiced support for same sex union.