In his first interview since he was forced out of his church following the burning of a rainbow pride flag, Father Paul Kalchik reveals that he’s been in hiding since the incident took place.
Kalchik spoke to the conservative Catholic website Church Militant this week after he was removed from Resurrection Parish following the burning of the flag, which once hung in the church’s sanctuary.
In the interview, Kalchik told the website that he was initially told he would be sent to St. Luke’s Institute, a psychiatric center in Maryland that focuses on mental health care for priests.
Kalchik has led the Resurrection Parish congregation for the past 11 years, but he was removed from the position after his church went ahead with plans to burn a pride flag that he called an “over-the-top sacrilegious depiction of our Lord’s passion.”
The pastor was told not to destroy the flag, but insists that he never received verbal instructions not to do so.
“Cardinal (Blasé) Cupich doesn’t operate in a written format,” he said. “Nobody said to not destroy it.”
After Kalchik’s congregation went ahead with the plans to burn the flag and pray an exorcism after the burning, a group of protesters, led by Alderman Deb Mell, demonstrated outside of the church.
“It was our piece of property, our over-the-top, sacrilegious depiction of our Lord’s passion, a cross, with a gay flag interwoven into its very fiber,” he said.
Following the uproar, Cardinal Cupich sent parishioners a letter this week, saying that Father Kalchik “must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said that Kalchik’s removal wasn’t “directly due” to the flag burning, and had been “in the works” for some time.