Parish priest who burned gay rainbow banner removed

A priest has been temporarily relieved of his duties after he burned a rainbow banner he believed symbolised a homosexual agenda contrary to Church teaching.

The events leading to Fr Paul Kalchik’s removal from his parish began at the beginning of this month. A statement in his parish newsletter announcing his intention to publicly burn a rainbow banner in front of the church drew media attention.

The banner was one that had been displayed in the parish church for several years.

According to a parish newsletter which describes the banner as “sacrilegious,” the banner was found in storage “just when the news of the gay predation of Cardinal McCarrick broke.”

When news of Kalchick’s intention spread the following week, the archdiocesan vicar for clergy phoned Kalchik, instructing him not to proceed.

The archdiocese says it was “mutually agreed that the event would not take place.

“As Catholics, we affirm the dignity of all persons.”

Kalchik has a different view of the conversation.

He says the archdiocese threatened him with “canonical penalties,” – a claim the archdiocese denies.

It says there was no discussion of potential consequences for burning the flag because Kalchik voluntarily agreed to comply with the instruction.

Despite this apparent agreement, the banner was burned on 14 September in the fire pit ordinarily used by the parish during the Easter Vigil liturgy.

While the event was reportedly attended by Kalchik and only a handful of parishioners, images of the flag burning were circulated on the internet and generated strong reactions.

Some groups labeled Kalchik as homophobic and said the burning was a deliberately provocative act. A group called the Northwest Side Coalition Against Racism and Hate organised a demonstration condemning the burning.

Others see Kalchik’s action as a stand against the pro-homosexual agenda in some parts of the Church.

In an interview after the flag was burned, Kalchik seemed to criticise Cupich, whom he accused of downplaying the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and of rejecting a link between homosexuality and sexual abuse by clergy.

“I can’t sit well with people like Cardinal Cupich who minimises all of this,” he 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.”

Kalchik also said he’s not anti-gay and that he was “about as much of a gay basher as Mother Teresa.”

Although the archdiocese insists that it was unrelated to the controversy surrounding the banner, no indication has been given to local parishioners – many of whom say they support Kalchik – as to exactly why their pastor was removed.

Cupich says in removing Kalchik he acted “out of concern” for Kalchik and parishioners. He said the 56-year-old priest needed “time away from the parish to receive pastoral support.”

The archdiocese issued this statement: “…Archdiocese leadership previously contacted the pastor to notify him he could not move forward with that planned activity. We are following up on the situation. As Catholics, we affirm the dignity of all persons.”


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