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Sexual Abuse Survivor Priest Who Burned Rainbow Flag Punished by Chicago Archdiocese

A Catholic priest at Resurrection Parish in Chicago has angered Cardinal Cupich after he planned an event to burn an LGBTQ "pride" flag he found stashed away in his rectory.

A victim of sexual abuse himself, Father Paul John Kalchik announced his intention to burn the sacrilegious flag in protest on the parish website. "On Saturday, Sept. 29, the Feast of Ss. 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," he wrote. The flag wasn't just hung in the church but placed in front of the hand-carved crucifix from Germany on the altar.

Photograph of Cardinal Bernardin presiding over Mass in 1991 at Resurrection Parish under rainbow flag (Credit: Father Kalchik)

Since the Pennsylvania grand jury report came out detailing the abuse of mostly teen boys by priests, there is a growing concern by laity that unchecked homosexual predation is the main problem and cause of the crisis in the Church. Photographs were found of the rainbow flag intertwined with a cross hanging over mass that was being said by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who was standing next to Easter candles with rainbows on them at Resurrection Parish. At the time of that mass in 1991, Bernardin was at the forefront of the LGBTQ activism that is currently warring for the soul of the Church. Bernardin started AGLO (Archdiocese Gay and Lesbian Outreach) to provide mass for gay Catholics who reject Catholic teaching on sexuality.

While the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is notoriously slow to punish priests engaged in improper sexual behavior, the Chicago Archdiocese acted with urgency to cancel Fr. Kalchik's event. After announcing his intention to burn the flag, Fr. Kalchik received a phone call from the Vicar for Priests Office, which is the disciplinary arm of the archdiocese. "It was a joint phone call with Fr. Dennis Lyle and Fr. Jeremy Thomas, who told me the cardinal had a message for me," Kalchick told PJM. "They said, 'the cardinal wants you to know three things. First, you are not to burn the flag and if you do you should know there are canonical penalties for disobeying the cardinal. Second, you have put in a transfer request to move closer to your parents and that will not happen if you do this. Thirdly, the cardinal thinks you should get a psychological evaluation.'"

Fr. Kalchik has been under psychological care for PTSD and depression since he was sexually assaulted at the age of 11 by a neighbor and then again at the age of 19 by a priest. "It was very insensitive," he said of the cardinal's message to him. "My condition is not a secret. All of my adult life I've been in treatment for the trauma of my youth. But still I've managed to have a functional life and a very successful career."