CHICAGO – Father Paul Kalchik burned a LGBT rainbow flag last week in an exorcism ceremony on the grounds of Resurrection Catholic Church. Father Kalchik and seven parishioners cut the flag into seven pieces. They then burned the pieces in the fire pit used for the Easter vigil Mass.
The flag once held a prominent place in the sanctuary of the church. Now parishioners can find the ashes in the parish compost heap.
The banner, which featured a cross and rainbow, was in storage for decades. Father Kalchik was assigned to the parish in 2007. When he arrived at the parish, he burned vestments and candles decorated with rainbow symbols.
“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,” he said in an interview with the Chicago Sun Times.
A call to fasting and prayer
Last weekend at Mass, Father Kalchik encouraged his parishioners to fill out pledge cards for fasting and praying. The pledge cards were in response to recent scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church.
He announced the flag burning to his parishioners in a postscript of his homily last weekend published in the parish bulletin.
“Postscript: On Saturday, September 29, the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we will burn, in front of church, the rainbow flag that was unfortunately hanging in our sanctuary during the ceremonial first Mass as Resurrection parish. We will also burn our pledge cards and prayerfully sing Psalm 141: ‘Let my prayer arise before you like incense, my hands like an evening offering.'”
The Archdiocese response
The Archdiocese of Chicago was aware of Father Kalchik’s plans. Representatives told the priest to not move forward with the burning.
In a statement to Windy City Times, Archdiocese of Chicago Communications and Marketing Director Anne Maselli said on behalf of the Archdiocese, “We can confirm that the pastor has agreed not to move forward with these activities.”
But Father Kalchik proceeded with his plans and still held the burning ceremony.
“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,” Father Kalchik continued. “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 Archdiocese of Chicago has not contacted Father Kalchik since the flag burning.
“We are following up on the situation,” Maselli said in response to a comment request from NBC News about the burning. “As Catholics we, the Archdiocese of Chicago, affirm the dignity of all persons.”