The archbishop of Chicago has removed a priest as head of a North Side church after he burned a rainbow banner, angering the LGBT community.
Rev. Paul Kalchik was removed from the Resurrection Catholic Church on Saturday – 10 days after he burned the rainbow flag in what he called an exorcism ceremony.
Cardinal Blase Cupich announced Rev. Kalchik’s removal in a recent letter to parishioners and staff at the church, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Cupich said 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’.
Kalchik said on Friday that he is not anti-gay and that he was ‘about as much of a gay basher as Mother Teresa’.
An archdiocese spokeswoman revealed on Saturday that the priest’s removal wasn’t ‘directly due’ to banner’s destruction and had been ‘in the works’.
Kalchik made headlines earlier this month when he announced he would burn a rainbow pride flag that was once prominently displayed at the church.
In a church bulletin, he said it would occur in front of the church on September 29, to coincide with the Feast of Saint Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.
Kalchik, who joined the church 11 years ago, said the flag was ‘unfortunately hanging in our sanctuary during the ceremony first Mass as Resurrection parish.’
In the announcement, he described the ‘US church homosexual scandal’ as a ‘sequel to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.’
But when the Archdiocese of Chicago became aware of Kalchik’s plans, it told him he couldn’t go ahead with it.
Nevertheless, Kalchik and some parishioners went ahead and burned the flag.
He said the flag was cut into seven pieces and burned in the same fire pit that was used for the Easter vigil mass.
‘We did so in a private way, a quiet way, so as not to bring the ire of the gay community down upon this parish,’ Kalchik added.
‘It’s our full right to destroy it, and we did so privately because the archdiocese was breathing on our back.’
Kalchik described the flag as ‘a sacrilege’ because it featured a cross and rainbow intertwined.
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