Rev. Paul Kalchik, a Roman Catholic priest at Resurrection Parish in Chicago, went rogue and decided to go against the orders of the Archdiocese. He and some of the parishioners made a point to burn a rainbow flag that had long been in storage after comparing what he called the “US Church homosexual scandal” to “Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Rev. Kalchik announced his plans for the flag-burning in the official church bulletin. The flag would be burned in front of the congregation.
“What have we done wrong other than destroy a piece of propaganda?” Rev. Paul Kalchik said after burning a rainbow flag that once hung at his church.
The bulletin reads:
“On Saturday, September 29, the Feast of Saint Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we will burn, in front of the church, the rainbow flag that was unfortunately hanging in our sanctuary during the ceremonial first Mass as Resurrection parish,” Kalchik wrote.
The footnote on the bulletin reads:
“US Church homosexual scandal is a sequel to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Kalchik said the flag had been in storage since it was last displayed in the 90s to welcome LGBTQ parishioners. He had destroyed priestly vestments with rainbows on them when he arrived in 2007 but missed the flag until it was found during a cleaning session.
“The people of this parish have been pretty resilient and put up with a lot of B.S.” Kalchik said in an interview in his office Tuesday night. “And it was just by accident that this banner that was made to celebrate all things gay … did not get destroyed when I first got here.”
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago says Rev. Kalchik was told not to proceed and that Kalchik had agreed with the instruction. Then, he went ahead with the flag burning last Friday, according to NBC News.
In his lengthy interview with NBC, the priest admitted that he felt the Archdiocese was overstepping his bounds and that he had tried to keep the story quiet to avoid criticism.
“We did so in a private way, a quiet way, so as not to bring the ire of the gay community down upon this parish,” Kalchik said in a lengthy interview Monday with NBC News. “It’s our full right to destroy it, and we did so privately because the archdiocese was breathing on our back.”
Kalchik claimed that having a rainbow and cross together on one flag was “sacrilege.”
“We put an end to a depiction of our Lord’s cross that was profane,” he added, noting the flag had a cross and a rainbow intertwined. To use the image of the cross as anything other than a “reminder of our Lord’s passion and death,” he said, “is what we consider a sacrilege.
Even worse, the priest says he performed an exorcism over the piece of material and then burned it in the same portable fire pit used at Easter. The ashes were then put in the church compost heap.
“So in a quiet way we took matters into our own hands and said a prayer of exorcism over this thing,” he said. “It was cut into seven pieces, so it was burned over stages in the same fire pit that we used for the Easter vigil mass.”
He compared the flag to a “piece of propaganda.”
“That banner and what it stood for doesn’t belong to the Archdiocese or Cardinal Cupich. It belongs to the people of this parish who paid for it,” Kalchik said. “What have we done wrong other than destroy a piece of propaganda that was used to put out a message other than what the church is about?”
The priest made it clear he believes LGBTQ people were worthy of death, citing Leviticus 20:13 from the Old Testament.
Cardinal Cupich had threatened Kalchik with “canonical penalties” if he went ahead with the flag burning and canceled his request to transfer to a diocese in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where he has family members.
According to the Chicaco Sun-Times, the priest says he was sexually abused by a neighbor as a child and by a priest when he started work at the church at age 19. He claims the sexual abuse crisis sweeping the church is “definitely a gay thing.”
He claims the Cardinal has minimized the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church.
“I can’t sit well with people like Cardinal Cupich, who minimizes all of this,” Kalchik said. “Excuse me, but almost all of the [abuse] cases are, with respect to priests, bishops and whatnot, taking and using other young men sexually. It’s definitely a gay thing.”
The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church, as in American culture at large, is something that must be confronted head-on. However, that doesn’t mean scapegoating the entire LGBTQ community for the crimes of sexual predators.
While sexual abuse can never be tolerated and should rightly be expelled from any organization, from the church to the Supreme Court, responding with a blanket hate to a whole group of people is nothing but bigotry, another evil all of its own.
I cannot imagine a more homophobic act, short of beating up an LGBT person. Note that the pastor defied the archdiocese and took part in the "exorcism." And connecting it to the Easter Mass is a scandal: Easter is about love; this is about hate. https://t.co/Got2IrnPz3
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) September 18, 2018
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