The Catholic priest removed from an Avondale church last weekend after burning an LGBTQ-friendly flag said in an interview published Wednesday that he has gone into hiding to avoid being committed to a mental institution by Archdiocese of Chicago leaders.
In his first public comments since Cardinal Blase Cupich removed him as pastor of Resurrection Catholic Church — recorded at an “undisclosed location” — the Rev. Paul Kalchik told the conservative Catholic news website Church Militant that Cupich dispatched two of his top deputies last Friday to take him away from the church at 3043 N. Francisco.
“[They said] ‘Pack your bags now and we’ll make certain that you get to St. Luke’s safely and get locked up for a number of months,’ ” Kalchik said, referring to the Saint Luke Institute, a mental-health facility in Maryland for the clergy.
When Kalchik refused to leave, he says the two deputies — Cupich’s vicars for priests — threatened to call the police to have him “forcibly removed.”
“And I don’t know how that would have played out, because we already had all these volunteer policemen there to make certain I wouldn’t be tarred and feathered by the rabid homosexualists of the North Side of Chicago, you know, who are [sending me] death threats,” Kalchik said.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Anne Maselli declined to comment on Kalchik’s claims, referring to Cupich’s letter sent Saturday to Resurrection parishioners, when the cardinal wrote that Kalchik “must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed.”
Maselli previously noted that the decision to remove the priest “has been in motion for some time and is not directly due to the flag-burning.”
Kalchik, who did not respond to requests for comment from the Chicago Sun-Times, said in the Church Militant interview that he “never received any written statement from Cardinal Cupich whatsoever” about his removal, saying Cupich “doesn’t operate in a written format.”
The priest insists that the flag burned with a prayer of exorcism during a closed ceremony on church grounds Sept. 14 was not a regular LGBTQ rainbow flag, instead calling it “an over-the-top sacrilegious depiction of our Lord’s passion, a cross with a gay flag interwoven into its very fibers.”
The 56-year-old priest first announced in a Sept. 2 church bulletin that he planned to burn the flag, after he found it in storage where it apparently sat for more than a decade.
Cupich, who has shared Pope Francis’ more welcoming attitude toward gays in the church, passed along orders against the flag-burning ceremony, but Kalchik went ahead and did it “in a quiet way,” he said, drawing the ire of LGBTQ-equality activists including Ald. Deb Mell (33rd), who called on Pope Francis and Cupich “to send this hateful bigot packing.”
Kalchik — who has said he was sexually abused by a neighbor as a child, and again by a priest when he began working for the church at 19 — previously told the Sun-Times that the sex-abuse crisis plaguing the church is “definitely a gay thing.”
“Our people were feeling pushed around by the administration downtown,” he told Church Militant. “Why should an archbishop tell a faithful group of holy people not to destroy a piece of sacrilegious art?”
The Rev. James Kaczorowski, pastor of Queen of Angels Parish, has been appointed administrator of Resurrection.