Father Paul Kalchik, the pastor of Resurrection Parish, was removed abruptly Saturday, 10 days after participating in what he called an exorcism ceremony, which included burning a rainbow pride flag.
NBC 5 has obtained the letter sent to parishioners by Cardinal Blase Cupich, who ordered the priest seek treatment.
Kalchik, according to multiple sources, was removed moments before he was to preside at a wedding Saturday afternoon, according to the source close to Fr. Kalchik. Newly installed Auxiliary Bishop Mart Bartosic was sent to Resurrection Parish by Cardinal Blasé Cupich to tell Kalchik he had to leave or the police would be called to arrest him for trespassing.
Kalchik — who had been Resurrection’s pastor for 11 years — left with his brother, who had been visiting, a primary source said.
The wedding mass was instead performed by Bishop Bartosic.
The source close to Fr. Kalchik told NBC 5 that on Friday, two priests sent by Cupich, met Kalchik and requested he leave and undergo psychiatric counseling after the burning of the rainbow pride flag last week. Kalchik’s disagreements with the Cardinal included him recently calling for Catholics to boycott masses Cupich presided over.
It was revealed just this week that a rainbow pride flag that had hung in the church sanctuary, was burned outside the church 10 days ago.
"There have been death threats against him and even his elderly parents, and lots of threats of vandalism to the Church," the primary source said.
That source believes it’s best Kalchik is removed for his safety.
Cardinal Blase Cupich’s letter was forwarded to parishioners Saturday evening stating:
“For some weeks now, I have become increasingly concerned about a number of issues at Resurrection Parish. It has become clear to me that Fr. Kalchik must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed. Effectively immediately, I have appointed Msgr. James Kaczorowski, Pastor of Queen of Angels Parish and Dean, as Administrator of Resurrection Parish, effective tonight.
I do not take this step lightly. Rather, I act out of concern for Fr. Kalchik’s welfare and that of the people of Resurrection Parish. I have a responsibility to be supportive of our priests when they have difficulties, but I also have a duty to ensure that those who serve our faithful are fully able to minister to them in the way the Church expects.
Bishop Mark Bartosic, your Episcopal Vicar, will monitor the situation along with the Administrator to ensure that you as parishioners receive appropriate pastoral care.”
The flag, which hung in the sanctuary of the church more than 25 years ago, had been taken down and put in storage, but was burned in a quiet ceremony this week.
“We did (burn the flag) in a private way, so as not to bring the ire of the gay community down upon this parish,” Rev. Paul Kalchik told NBC News.
Originally, Kalchik posted in the church bulletin that he had planned to burn the flag in a public ceremony on Sept. 29, as part of the Feast of Saint Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, but the Chicago Archdiocese intervened, asking the parish to refrain from the burning.
Social media posts showed the flag, which featured a rainbow and the cross, burning behind the church this week.
“We put an end to a depiction of the Lord’s Cross that was profane,” Kalchik said. “We took matters into our own hands and said a prayer of exorcism over this thing. It was cut into seven pieces, so it was burned over stages in the same fire pit that we used for the Easter vigil mass.”
Kalchik told the Chicago Sun-Times he was sexually abused by a neighbor and a priest when he was a teen, and blamed homosexuality for the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.
He also said the Archdiocese threatened him with “canonical penalties” if he went through with the flag burning.
Last week, in a statement to NBC 5, the Archdiocese said they were “following up on the situation,” and that “as Catholics, we affirm the dignity of all persons.”
Dignity USA, a Catholic organization that advocates for equality, said the flag burning was disrespectful and destructive.
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“Those involved in this desecration are violating the core values of the Catholic faith,” a spokeswoman for the group said in a statement to NBC News. “They are hijacking the parish to further an extremist agenda, and damaging the community in doing so.”
Also, Alderman Deb Mell, whose ward includes Resurrection Parish, held a protest in front of the church once the flag burning was revealed. She then thanked Cardinal Cupich on Twitter “for taking swift action and listening to the concerns of our community” by removing Father Paul Kalchik.