Last week, a Roman Catholic priest in Chicago defied warnings from the city’s archdiocese and torched a rainbow Pride flag.
Last night, at least two dozen LGBTQ activists gathered in protest outside the church where it happened.
Against the orders of Cardinal Blase Cupich, Father Paul Kalchik of Resurrection Parish proceeded to burn the internationally recognized symbol of LGBTQ Pride. In a church bulletin posted earlier this month, the priest vowed to set fire to the flag, which had once been prominently displayed in the church. As Kalchik put it, the flag was “unfortunately hanging in our sanctuary.”
The flag-burning was initially set for September 29, but apparently, he couldn’t wait to torch it.
Kalchik, who publicly denounces homosexuality, told NBC News that he’d considered the flag, which bore the image of a cross intertwined with a rainbow, “profane” and a “sacrilege.”
Upon hearing of the scheduled flag-burning, the Archdiocese of Chicago ordered Kalchik to call it off. After agreeing to do so, at first, the priest defied the archdiocese and went ahead with his plan. In a private ceremony, he gathered a number of parishioners from his flock and set fire to the flag—which had been cut into seven pieces—while saying “a prayer of exorcism.”
“We did so in a private way, a quiet way, so as not to bring the ire of the gay community down upon this parish,” Kalchick told NBC News. “It’s our full right to destroy it, and we did so privately because the archdiocese was breathing on our back.”
Not surprisingly, members of the LGBTQ Catholic community have had a strong response to the destruction of the flag and to a priest who used his position to advance a homophobic agenda.
“Those involved in this desecration are violating the core values of the Catholic faith,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA. “They are hijacking the parish to further an extremist agenda, and damaging the community in doing so.”
On Wednesday evening, a peaceful protest was held outside the church, led by out lesbian Deborah Mell, Chicago City Council member and 33rd Ward Alderman. Protesters held signs bearing the message: “HATE HAS NO HOME HERE.”