A Chicago Catholic priest defied the area’s Cardinal and burned a gay rainbow flag during an exorcism ceremony calling the flag a piece of “propaganda.”
North Side priest, Rev. Paul Kalchik, who exclaimed that the actions of Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich (pronounced Blaze Soopich) do not “sit well” with him, reports that he burned the rainbow-colored LGBTQ flag he found in his church basement.
Kalchik, who led the church since 2007 and said that the Bible is clear that homosexuality is wrong, noted that he opposes the Cardinal’s attempts to downplay the sex abuse scandals still ripping through the Catholic Church.
The reverend said that he found the flag in a storage area at his Resurrection Catholic Church and learned that the rainbow-stripped flag featuring a large Christian cross superimposed across it had been a featured item in the past. But parishioners say it hasn’t been displayed for years.
Apparently the priest announced in the church newspaper that he planned to burn the gay flag, but the archdiocese warned him not to do so. Kalchik also says that the Cardinal’s representatives told him he would suffer “canonical penalties” if he burned the flag.
But, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Rev. Kalchik did not heed the warnings:
Kalchik led seven parishioners in a prayer of exorcism Friday, and the flag was burned inside a portable fire pit placed the schoolyard next to the church. The ashes of the flag now rest in a church compost heap.
“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?”
Cupich, who has joined Pope Francis in exuding a more welcoming tone to gays in the Catholic Church, had attempted to stop Kalchik from burning the flag, instructing Kalchik he “could not move forward with that planned activity,” Archdiocese of Chicago spokeswoman Anne Maselli said Tuesday.
Maselli said that the archdiocese was “unaware” that the flag-burning occurred, “and we are following up on the situation. As Catholics we affirm the dignity of all persons.”
Kalchik says that he was preceded by three “bad priests” at his church who he claims were “promoting the gay lifestyle.”
He also said that when he took over the church, he discovered vestments, candles, and other religious regalia emblazoned with the gay rainbow colors, but he destroyed them all.
“The people of this parish have been pretty resilient and put up with a lot of B.S.” Kalchik told the paper. “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.”
Finally, Rev. Kalchik says that he fully understands the sex abuse crisis in the church because he was molested by a fellow priest when he was starting his work for the church as a 19-year-old.
“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.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.
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