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Protestant leaders to Cardinal Cupich: Condemn priest who burned rainbow flag

A gay-friendly flag, shown here during a 1991 service at Resurrection Catholic Church, was burned last week by the Rev. Paul Kalchik (upper right).

Scoopsville . . .Sneed has learned more than 175 members of the Protestant faith and clerical community have sent a letter to Cardinal Blase Cupich Tuesday morning asking the diocese to more strongly reject the recent burning of the LGTBQ-friendly flag by an Avondale priest.

The rainbow-colored flag which featured a cross was ceremoniously lit on fire behind the Resurrection Catholic Church by Rev. Paul Kalchik earlier this month in what the priest dubbed an “exorcism.”

“We write to request a full investigation of these actions and for full transparency from the diocese concerning Father Kalchik” and his future with the church, the letter states. Kalchik burned the flag even though the archdiocese instructed him not to.

A copy of the letter, obtained by Sneed, identifies the groups as comprised of “religious leaders and people of faith in Chicago and as colleagues in ministry who represent congregations and organizations from across the city.” The number of leaders that signed the letter was growing in size late Monday night and includes at least one rabbi.

The group further demands “confirmation Father Kalchik has been removed from ministry.”

RELATED: Flag-burning priest removed from Avondale church

In addition, the group is also asking Cupich to issue a statement strongly asserting “the dignity and worth of all people and denouncing any connection between LGBTQIA+ people and their families with pedophiles and sexual abusers,” said Rev. Lindsay Mack, pastor of Luther Memorial Church in Ravenswood.

The group cites news accounts on Kalchik’s claims that the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Catholic Church is caused by gay priests. In an interview last week, Kalchik told the Sun-Times the crisis is “definitely a gay thing.”

“We believe Rev. Kalchik is endangering the LGBTQIA+ people with hatred and violence using his authority as a Catholic priest when he burned that rainbow colored flag for the reasons he asserted,” said Mack.

Cupich has issued statements in the past saying he didn’t agree with the view that the sexual abuse crisis could be blamed on gay priests.

The group was still gathering signatures from other religious community members upset by the situation on a Google Form which encourages people to “Sign the Open Letter to Cardinal Cupich.”

Stay tuned.

Read the full text of the letter:

Dear Cardinal Cupich,

We write as religious leaders and people of faith in Chicago. As your colleagues in ministry, we represent congregations and organizations from across the city.

We come from different denominations and religious traditions, and yet, we trust that we share in common a belief in the Imago Dei – that we are each created in the image of God, that we are each beloved and worthy of God’s love and deserving of inclusion in communities of faith.

We also believe that positions of religious and spiritual leadership come with a responsibility to lead and care for our communities out of a deep sense of self awareness and compassion, a commitment to do no harm. We are called, as spiritual leaders to own our own stories – even our stories of deep pain and trauma so that we do not inflict abuse or pain on those who look to us for pastoral care and spiritual guidance.

On Friday, September 14, 2018, Father Paul Kalchik of Resurrection Catholic Church gathered with a small group of parishioners. They cut a rainbow banner that included a cross on it into pieces and then burned it. In comments reported by the Chicago Sun Times, regarding his actions Fr. Kalchik “claims the sex-abuse crisis plaguing the church is ‘definitely a gay thing.’” In addition, Fr. Kalchik was quoted in the same article as saying, “The people of this parish have been pretty resilient and put up with a lot of B.S…And it was just by accident that this banner that was made to celebrate all things gay … did not get destroyed when I first got here.”

Fr. Kalchik’s actions have caused great harm. They have traumatized some of us personally, members of our congregations and organizations, and countless others in our city and beyond by falsely claiming that the sex-abuse crisis plaguing the Catholic Church is “definitely a gay thing.” By making this claim and taking these actions, Fr. Kalchik is further endangering LGBTQIA+ people and their families and in using his authority as a Catholic Priest, giving permission for others to treat LGBTQIA+ people with hatred and violence.

We write to request a full investigation of these actions and for full transparency from the Diocese concerning Fr. Kalchik’s process and future. As people of faith we have deep compassion for the ways in which he has been wounded, and pray that he will experience personal healing and restoration. However, when someone with religious authority acts out of their own trauma to abuse others we must take action, and we ask for confirmation that Fr. Kalchik has been removed from ministry. We also request that you issue a statement that strongly asserts the dignity and worth of all people, including LGBTQIA+ people and their families, and denounces any connection between LGBTQIA+ people and pedophiles and sexual abusers.

Cardinal Cupich, at this time in our history and in our country, a strong statement is needed from someone in your position in the Catholic Church. Otherwise, the Catholic Church is complicit in giving people a license to hate and harm. Thus far, you have remained silent on Fr. Kalchik’s false and harmful statements about LGBTQIA+ people and we are eager to hear from you.