Parishioners of Resurrection Parish in Chicago, Illinois, held a rainbow flag-burning event last week, cutting up and setting on fire an LGBT flag that once hung in the sanctuary at the parish's first Mass. The event was originally scheduled for Sept. 29, the Feast of St. Michael and the Archangels, but the Chicago archdiocese — heeding complaints by gay activists — called the pastor, Fr. Paul John Kalchik, and ordered him not to hold the event. A handful of parishioners took things into their own hands and decided they would burn the flag themselves.
Kalchik is a victim of homosexual rape and abuse, once at the age of 11 and again at age 19. He has been pastor of Resurrection Parish for 11 years. He issued a heartfelt plea to Pope Francis in an open letter calling for an end to clerical cover-up. His strongly worded articles and homilies calling for reform in the Church, in particular denouncing the homosexual predation of clerics, has drawn down the ire of Cdl. Blase Cupich and the Chicago archdiocese, who have threatened to remove his priestly faculties and derail his priestly career.
Here, one parishioner explains the significance of the rainbow flag burned at the parish, which used to hang in the sanctuary, including at the 1991 inaugural Mass presided over by Cdl. Joseph Bernardin.
It is important to understand why the rainbow cross banner that hung in Resurrection Church when it was formed in 1991 has been burned. This was no regular rainbow flag, but a banner merging the Cross with the rainbow. It was not innocent. It was a signal that this parish would the new "gay" parish, as Fr. Daniel Montalbano's previous church, St. Sebastian, home to gay Masses, had burned down.
One of our deacons complained loudly about this banner and what it represented, but those complaints fell on deaf ears. Father Montalbano was a great friend of Cdl. Joseph Bernardin and one of the founders of AGLO, Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach. This banner cost $1,000, in a parish whose collection each week was struggling to hit $4,000.
Longtime parishioners and deacons have given accounts of the gay Masses that were held in the basement of the rectory, and the wild all-male parties in the parish house. The real story of Fr. Montalbano's death in 1997, at the age of only 50, is too sordid to be detailed on paper. In cleaning out the rectory, many things, including vestments that were used in the hidden Masses, were taken to Fr. Paul's family farm and burned there.
Somehow, the rainbow banner was tucked away, but recently found. It is visible in the pictures of the 1991 Mass with Cdl. Bernardin and Fr. Montalbano. Also shown is the parish's first Easter Candle, which is curiously sporting a rainbow, too.
No one in this parish, especially our pastor, hates people who have a same-sex attraction. And, in spite of comments by many bishops and even the Pope, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has not changed, nor has scientific research proven that anyone has a gene that makes them born gay. The Church teaches that sex outside of marriage is sinful, and that sex between two people of the same sex is always sinful.
Our Church welcomes all people and we are all sinners, but it does not welcome sin; it welcomes conversion. Jesus says to "pick up your cross"; same-sex attraction is a difficult cross, indeed. Father Paul simply calls us to holiness, as he is supposed to do as a priest.
Father Paul was asked not to go through with a public burning of the rainbow banner, as complaints were heard from the gay community, and those complaints never fall on deaf ears in today's culture. Therefore, the burning was carried out privately, by a few parishioners. Our prayer service on Sept. 29, the Feast of the Archangels, will be centered on offering our pledges of prayer, fasting and abstinence to the Lord in reparation for the sexual abuse that has gone on and been covered up for so long.
It is a shame that he's been told his faculties as a priest might be taken away. It's a shame that we have taken calls from foul-mouthed people who wish him harm. It's a shame he has to start sentences, "If something happens to me ... ."
We hope that Fr. Paul will be allowed to continue to pastor at Resurrection. As a victim himself, he has a heart for people who are hurting, lonely or need any kind of special help. He says most of each week's 13 Masses, and virtually every wedding, funeral and quinceañera. He leads the Rosary twice a week and prays at an abortion clinic every Saturday morning. He is on the Priests Advisory Board for the Respect Life Office. He says Mass at the Women's Center. He supports a local outreach to immigrants. He teaches both RCIA and Catechism classes. He has three regular Communion calls each week but sometimes does more. He keeps this church and its grounds looking beautiful. He fixes and builds things to save money. He truly shows his faith through works. So, to quote the archdiocesan ad for vocations: "Who will fill these shoes?"