Father Paul Kalchik Removed From Catholic Church After Burning Rainbow Flag

On September 14, Reverend Paul Kalchik of the Avondale Resurrection Catholic Church on the North Side of Chicago burned a rainbow flag that had been hanging in the church for several years. Saturday Cardinal Blasé Cupich announced that Kalchik had been removed as head of the church. Cupich released a letter that explained the move.

"For some weeks now, I have become increasingly concerned about a number of issues at Resurrection Parish. It has become clear to me that Fr. Kalchik must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed."
The Chicago Tribune reported that Anne Maselli, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said that the two events were not "directly related," but rather that it was a decision Cupich had been considering for some time. Stepping in as administrator of the church is Monsignor James Kaczorowski, pastor of the Queen of Angels parish.

Cardinal Cupich said in his letter that this decision was one he had taken very seriously and one that he did not make lightly. He expressed "concern for Fr. Kalchik's welfare and that of the people of Resurrection Parish." Calls to the home of Fr. Kalchik on Saturday were not returned. Callers received a message that his answering machine was full.

Paul Kalchik claims to have been sexually abused by a priest while attending the seminary. NBC News reported that Kalchik posted an announcement in the church bulletin earlier this month that there would be a burning of a rainbow banner that had hung at the church for several years. It would take place on September 29 in front of the church. A footnote to the announcement read, "US Church homosexual scandal is a sequel to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah."

When news of the announcement reached the Archdiocese of Chicago, they told Kalchik to cancel the event and announced that it would not take place. Resurrection Church, however, ignored the order and moved the burning to the back of the church. Kalchik later explained that he had understood that the archdiocese didn't want the event to take place in front of the church, so the congregation had moved it behind the church and made less of a display of it, in the allegedy hopes to reduce anger from the LGBT community.

Kalchik told NBC News, "It's our full right to destroy it, and we did so privately because the archdiocese was breathing on our back." He further explained the reason for the burning saying, "We put an end to a depiction of our Lord's cross that was profane," referring to the flag that shows a cross and a rainbow intertwined. He further explained that using the image of the cross for any purpose besides a "reminder of our Lord's passion and death is what we consider a sacrilege."