Using Psychiatric Hospitals to Punish Priests

News: US News
by Church Militant  •  •  June 20, 2019   

Per canon law, no priest may be forced to enter a rehab center against his will

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DETROIT ( - Father Paul Kalchik is warning that psychiatric treatment centers are sometimes used by Church leaders to sideline good priests.
In an interview with Church Militant, Fr. Kalchik recounts the reason he was in hiding for the past year was to avoid being committed to the notorious psychiatric ward, St. Luke's Institute.
Kalchik, who was compelled under threat of forcible removal to depart from his pastorate of Chicago's Resurrection parish, told Church Militant he had no choice.
He was strongly opposed to being committed to St. Luke's based on the center's bad reputation and previous corrupt administration.
"I was compelled to depart from the parish on Saturday, September 22 because Bp. Rev. Mark Bartosik, acting under orders given to him by Cdl. Blase Cupich (Archbishop of Chicago) instructed him to give me a choice either of departing of my own free will or being forcibly removed from the parish by the Chicago Police Department," said Kalchik. "Compelled to depart, my brother drove me to a safe location in another state."
He reiterated his understanding that should he have to be forcibly removed, he would, in fact, be sent to St. Luke's Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland for psychological evaluation. He told Church Militant that he was strongly opposed to being committed to St. Luke's based on the center's bad reputation and previous corrupt administration, as documented by multiple reports.
Kalchik described St. Luke's as a place designed mainly for men and women religious. It is well known that most of the clerics assigned for treatment by the facility are there "ostensibly but questionably in many cases" for serious addiction-related issues involving alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling.
Church Militant asked Kalchik if some prelates weaponize psychiatric hospitalization to sideline or discredit good priests for having taken public stands against corruption or bad morals in their dioceses.
Short answer: yes.
Many priests are not aware of the fact that a bishop cannot order them to be committed to a psychiatric center. Church Militant has verified with canon lawyers that according to canon law, no cleric can be committed to such a mental institution by his superior against his choice and that they are not obligated under Catholic Church law to obey prelates who order them to do so.
"The big problem at St. Luke's in the past was its administration," said Kalchik. "As an institution, they have suffered from both inept and crooked administrators. One leading administrator was removed for stealing funds from the institution as well as using this money for his homosexual lifestyle."
Switching gears, Church Militant asked Kalchik about his canonical battle against having been compelled to flee Resurrection parish.
Due to pending canonical litigation before the Holy See and out of respect for the process and those involved, the priest declined to comment. He did state, however, that it is a heavy financial burden for any priest to defend his canonical rights, because the priest cannot do it successfully on his own.
It also requires overcoming numerous stages of "hierarchical recourse" or administrative appeal first at the diocesan level, then at the Congregation level, and, finally, at the level of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
No cleric can be committed to such a mental institution by his superior against his choice.
Church Militant has been raising funds for Kalchik's legal defense. Those who wish to support his fight may do so by clicking on this link, which is hosting his cause.
Kalchik spoke about what keeps him moving forward with his case.
"What keeps me going are all the prayers and support of friends and family," he said. "Apart from this important motivation, what keeps me plodding along is the knowledge that what is being fought for, the return of the Church to holiness and orthodoxy, is worth the fight!"
"A year after the McCarrick revelations have come to light, I do see progress in small increments here and there," he added. "Only time will tell how much meaningful and lasting reform is achieved by those shepherds responsible for safeguarding the welfare of soul."


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