CHICAGO, IL — A Chicago alderman is calling on Catholic Church officials to sack Rev. Paul Kalchik, whom she calls a “hateful bigot,” for publicly burning a Christian gay pride banner. Deb Mell of Chicago’s 33rd Ward called the burning a “hate crime” and organized a small assembly outside the parish Wednesday evening.
“On Saturday, September 29, the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we will burn, in front of [Resurrection Parish], the rainbow banner that was unfortunately hanging in our sanctuary,” Kalchik wrote in a Sept. 2 church bulletin, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Cardinal Blase Cupich shut down the burning, saying Kalchik “could not move forward with that planned activity,” Archdiocese of Chicago spokeswoman Anne Maselli said Tuesday, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
At first, Kalchik complied with the order, the Windy City Times reported on Sept. 11.
Then, Kalchik reneged. The burning went ahead on Friday, Sept. 14 with a “prayer of exorcism,” the Chicago Sun Times reported, as an act of defiance against Cardinal Blase Cupich’s demand.
The burning of the banner, and the response, comes amid a widespread and perennial crisis in which Catholic Church priests and officials are being accused of sexual crimes and of covering them up. Kalchik attributes much of the vile crimes to gay priests.
But, as NPR reported, researchers have found “no evidence of a link” between sexual abuse and sexual orientation.
Resurrection Parish used to proudly display the banner, which depicted a white cross superimposed over a rainbow, over their alter. The Sun Times reported Kalchik as saying the banner had been in storage for over a decade.
Then on Sept. 19, Ald. Mell, who is gay, officially called on the Catholic Church to give Kalchik the boot.
“I’m calling on Pope Francis and Cardinal Cupich to send this hateful bigot packing … This is a hate crime-plain and simple.”
After calling for Kalchik’s outsing, Mell sent out a request for community members to join her in protesting at the parish.
The assembly drew about two dozen people, the Tribune reported. “It’s not a good time to be a Catholic,” said Laura Bomkamp, a teacher from Avondale, about the sex abuse crisis. Kalchik had made the claim that he had been a victim too, she noted.
One man who did not give his full name interrupted mell, saying he saw the banner as “representing sexual predator priests,” according to the Tribune.
Cupich criticized NBC5 for what he said was “misleading” coverage of an Aug. 27 interview with him, the Tribune reported. He said it was made to seem like he and Pope Francis were trying to downplay the sexual abuse crisis, which he said was untrue.
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