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Four years ago, the course of my life changed and went in a direction I could never have imagined.
On Sept. 14, 2018, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a small group of my parishioners at Resurrection Parish in Chicago and I prayed prayers of deliverance over my predecessor's rainbow banner.
We found it, damp and moldy due to a leak, as we were cleaning out the sacristy for a new season.
We placed it out in the sun to dry, and then, as one must do when disposing of any object displayed in the sanctuary during Holy Mass, we burned it. Objects like this cannot just be thrown into the garbage.
When the parish officially opened in June 1991, the former pastor, Fr. Daniel Montalbano, proudly hung the banner at the front of the Church, covering a depiction of Our Lord's Passion. Montalbano's banner had a large rainbow superimposed over a lavender cross.
In the early '90s, rainbow imagery was just catching on as a symbol of the LGBT movement. Many faithful still assumed the rainbow was a holy symbol signifying the covenant God had made with Noah, and they were unaware that it was being misappropriated.
Fr. Montalbano's rainbow banner was intended to convey the message not of Noah but of the LGBT lobby. This is fitting when one considers his scandalous life — and death.
Immediately after Montalbano's banner was burned, many news accounts falsely reported that I had burned a gay-pride flag, and the erroneous news went viral. Considering all the grief I've endured due to the false reports and all the suffering the gay lobby has inflicted on the Church, I sometimes wish that I had made a big bonfire of gay-pride flags!
NBC 5 Chicago reported this: "A priest says a prayer of exorcism over and then burns a rainbow flag." Pictures of the event were posted. But one of the ironies of modern news reporting is that pictures alone may not accurately represent what really happened. Pictures and videos need to be critiqued for accuracy and bias just like text.
To be crystal clear, what we burned that day wasn't a gay flag! After the NBC 5 broadcast (and others like it), I became a media celebrity of sorts, famous for torching gay flags — which, by the way, is not against the law.
I am one of only a handful of Catholic priests who have pushed back against the LGBT mob in recent times. I am actually proud to be known for burning a so-called gay flag. Speaking of things that appeal to my pride (another word misappropriated by the gay lobby), I am even cited on Wikipedia for upholding Church teaching in an article called "History of the Catholic Church and Homosexuality." Back when I was in seminary many years ago, who would have thought that one day my name would be mentioned alongside great saints like John Chrysostom, Peter Damian and Anselm for fighting against sodomy?
The Wikipedia article says this about the event that played out four years ago:
In 2018, Fr. Paul Kalchik in Avondale, Chicago, burned the rainbow flag, which he described as "propaganda," following a prayer of exorcism. Rainbow vestments were also destroyed. The flag had originally been displayed at the altar in 1991 to welcome LGBTQ worshipers. However, Kalchik believed his predecessors at the parish had erroneously promoted the "gay lifestyle" and that the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church was "definitely a gay thing." Cardinal Blase J. Cupich intervened but failed to stop the burning.
I've tried to correct the Wikipedia article, but the editors are not easy to dialogue with, to say the least. Contrary to common perceptions, Wikipedia has its own bias, which includes a slant against Church teaching. It often reads like a left-wing blog.
One sentence, in particular, that I wanted to correct is this one: "Kalchik believed his predecessors at the parish had erroneously promoted the 'gay lifestyle' and that the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church was 'definitely a gay thing.'"
In fact, Cdl. Francis George, who assigned me to the parish in 2007, told me point blank to "clean up the cursed place." Neither Cdl. George, nor myself, nor much of the public at large, had any "erroneous" beliefs about the type of lifestyle Montalbano and Sanchez led. Their licentious, scandalous lifestyles were well known and have since been well-documented.
During my first months at Resurrection, I cleaned out the sacristy, including my predecessors' vestments with gay insignia on them. Again, items like vestments worn during Holy Mass cannot just be thrown into the garbage. I carted them off to my parents' farm in northern Michigan in two giant bags to dispose of them respectfully.
I informed Cdl. George of the concrete efforts I was making to "clean up" the place, both figuratively and literally. George wholeheartedly approved of my efforts, and he encouraged me.
In the Wikipedia article, I am also quoted as saying that "the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church was 'definitely a gay thing.'" I know this to be true from my own experience and also from research studies — for example, the John Jay report. The Wikipedia editors seem not to have gotten a copy of this famous report, which documents that the sexual abuse crisis in the Church is definitely "a gay thing."
The report, which details incidences of clerical sexual abuse from 1950–2002, substantiates that the overwhelming majority of cases were of a homosexual nature, i.e., male clerics preying upon postpubescent boys and young men. According to the report, "81% of the victims were male, and 90% were postpubescent."
When I think back on it, I realize that Montalbano's gay banner did not really have much of a lifespan, despite its cost. Montalbano ordered it custom-made by an artist with a price tag of over $5,000 — quite a tidy sum in the 1990s.
It was displayed in the sanctuary for only a short time, and after a couple of months of hanging there, some parishioners grew tired of it and put it in a mothball-filled cupboard in the sacristy. Most parishioners preferred to gaze upon the depiction of our Lord's Passion, the focal point of the sanctuary's reredos, that the banner had hidden.
Many did not yet realize the real menacing meaning behind the rainbow banner and the LGBT agenda it signified.
But the sodomy-promoting Montalbano knew the real meaning, and despite his best efforts to promote Resurrection in the early '90s as the new St. Sebastian — a well-known hot spot for "gay Catholics" at that time — it was not to be.
St. Sebastian burned to the ground while Montalbano was the pastor in 1989, never to be rebuilt. I was aware of what happened to this beautiful, little wooden Church because I worked right next door at Illinois Masonic Hospital as a nursing student.
After the fire destroyed St. Sebastian's, the archdiocese sold the land to the hospital — which would, effectively, double in size overnight. That sale was a bases-loaded homerun for the masons in Chicago.
As a young nursing student, I had no idea about the fact that masonry runs so contrary to Catholicism. I didn't know that Catholics should not be masons.
Resurrection Parish, located just west of the Chicago River, never did take off as a gay parish to replace St. Sebastian's, as the gay lobby intended. Dignity Masses were never held in the church, although Montalbano did get away with holding Dignity Masses in the rectory basement. And after his undignified death, no Dignity Masses were said anywhere on Resurrection Parish's grounds.
Now, four years since the burning of the banner, Resurrection Parish is no more. It was officially closed by the archdiocese of Chicago on June 30, 2021. However, the Church is still open as an oratory for Masses, and it has reverted to the original name it had when it was built in the 1920s: St. Francis Xavier.
When I was booted out of my parish by the LGBT mob in 2018, Resurrection Parish was booming.
Our parish had 77 children who received the sacrament of confirmation and a similarly high number receiving first Holy Communion. The parish's status animarum was among the highest on Chicago's northside. The status animarum counts the number of sacraments administered in a particular parish over the course of a year.
And when I left the parish, it was in the black financially. It did not have even one loan on the books and was current with all its vendors! The staff and I administered funds carefully — no $5,000 gay banners.
Of all the things I lament, the worst was how the Spanish-speaking families, who comprised 90% of the parish, were abandoned as events played out. With their parish now gone, they suffer greatly. If they wish to receive instruction for a sacrament, they have to travel a great distance. I learned to speak Spanish in order to better administer the holy sacraments to them and their children. I miss them to this day.
Now that the parish is gone, I wonder how many children from the neighborhood are receiving the sacraments.
So many of us still mourn for our beloved parish.
Lori Lightfoot, who was only a mayoral wannabe at the time, was a big instigator for the cause of booting me out of the parish.
Lightfoot, a woman I have never met, had the audacity to write a letter to Cdl. Blase Cupich on Sept. 20, 2018, trying to persuade him to immediately remove me as pastor.
Despite not being a Catholic or having any firsthand knowledge about what happened, she brazenly made this demand of the cardinal.
Lightfoot's letter to Cupich would probably have had little traction if it had been delivered in a normal fashion. But Lightfoot touted her letter to the cardinal in front of cameras and branded me as "a hater." That label stung the worst, and the moniker also galvanized the LGBT mob against me.
It's perplexing to think that she could call a man out like that without even knowing him or having a shred of evidence. If the man is a "hater," then doesn't he have to demonstrate hatred?
I am at a loss for words here. A "hater" is someone who paints swastikas on synagogue walls or shouts profanities at little kids just to scandalize them. Not a man who, for decades, did his best to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments of the Church.
A little research on Lightfoot's part would have shown her that I loved Chicago and Chicagoans.
In 1999, I was a newly ordained priest and president of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce. I ran a soup kitchen for eight years in South Chicago, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. The South Shore Soup Kitchen was a collaborative project for many years between the South Shore Chamber of Commerce and the Church. The soup kitchen was open every day, even on holidays, except on Sundays in observance of the Sabbath. Using money from my family's businesses and donations from friends, this endeavor fed the poor and homeless for years.
After being transferred to Resurrection, I helped establish a community outreach program to help the parish's poor members. Paradoxically, Resurrection, despite being on Chicago's northside with dozens of brand-new luxury condos lining the major streets, also had a dark, impoverished underbelly. Parishioners at Resurrection covered the gamut, some very wealthy and some destitute.
The Kennedy Expressway on Chicago's northside is very close to the parish, and underneath this interstate exists a tent city of Chicago's homeless. During a massive blizzard on Feb. 2, 2011, which blanketed Chicago with over 20 inches of snow and subzero temperatures, my associate pastor, Fr. Fernando Zuleta, and I took in these homeless people. We housed and fed them in the church until after the city was dug out.
As the storm began on the afternoon of Feb. 1, Fr. Fernando and I visited each underpass around the parish and cajoled the homeless to abandon their tents and take shelter in the church. We knew they could not survive the upcoming snowstorm.
During this blizzard, the city of Chicago took no steps whatsoever to help these destitute men and women. Unlike past storms, the city advertised beforehand that the CTA would shut down the trains. During the entire storm, they actually prevented the poor from riding the trains. In decades past, the open train cars have proved to be a lifesaver for Chicago's homeless.
To make things worse for the homeless, a Seventh-day Adventists group, which operated a nearby soup kitchen and warming center, closed its doors for the duration of the storm. They did this not because of any malice, but because they could not guarantee that any staff members would be there to operate it.
Our well-heated church proved to be a lifesaver for the homeless during that blizzard. Father Fernando and I gave them each as many pews as they wanted for themselves and their meager belongings. We saved many who would have frozen to death. In the end, we had a total of 18 people who took shelter in the church.
As the blizzard raged during the Feast of the Presentation on Feb. 2, I believe Resurrection was the only church in Chicago that had 20 souls for the morning Mass — Fr. Fernando, 18 homeless guests and myself.
We served breakfast after Mass.
In the aftermath of the freakish storm, there were no deaths from exposure in Resurrection Parish — praise God! Deaths were tragically reported in other parts of Chicago.
How is it that a priest with a proven track record for aiding Chicago's poor can be so easily labeled a "hater" by Lightfoot and Chi Town's LGBT community?
No explanation suffices for the lies and calumnies of evildoers. There was no rational explanation for the actions of those who sought the Passion and death of Our Lord. I reflect back on the stunning depiction of Christ's suffering above the altar at Resurrection, hidden for a time behind the infamous banner.
I'm also still perplexed how, without any evidence, I was run out of my parish and my town. I still can't wrap my mind around how something like this could happen. Where were the civil authorities to protect my rights as a citizen?
But bad things like this happen every day in Lightfoot's Chicago, don't they?
At the time of my expulsion, Chicago had a corrupt police commander, Eddie Johnson, who was more interested in his own selfish pursuits than protecting the rights of citizens.
I have often wondered what crime the Chicago police department would have charged me with if they had taken me into custody. What crime did I commit? Quietly disposing of a forgotten, moldy banner that had been left in a cupboard for years to rot?
The Chicago Police Department threatened to forcibly remove me from the parish. This threat was substantiated at the time by the parish's vicar, Bp. Mark Bartosic.
Before the police could follow through, my brother Andrew intervened and orchestrated my escape from Chicago. Andrew said to me, "Paul, we've got to get you out of here or you will be hauled out in handcuffs."
Since then, I've been a fugitive priest.
In so many respects, these events defy any rational explanation. But another thing that defies reason is that Lightfoot is running for another term as Chicago's mayor. My prayer, along with so many Chicagoans, is that she loses. No one who spreads lies and deceit is fit to govern anything, let alone a major city.
Under Lightfoot's governance, Chicago's murder and crime rate has been off the charts. This alone should be enough to curtail her reelection, but with the demonic Left controlling the media, it's likely she'll continue.
Ever since I fled the fall of 2018, Chicago, our nation and our Church are worse off now than they ever were.