AVONDALE — Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) wants to send a message to the Avondale priest who burned a gay-friendly flag earlier this week and blames the LGBTQ community for priest sex abuse: Hate has no home here.
Mell, who is openly lesbian, is holding a protest, or what she referred to as a “peaceful assembly,” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in front of Resurrection Catholic Church, 3043 N. Francisco Ave.
According to the Sun-Times, Rev. Paul Kalchik burned the flag, which depicted a cross superimposed over a rainbow, inside a fire pit next to the church Friday as he led seven parishioners in a prayer of exorcism. Kalchik didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The priest told the Sun-Times he burned the flag, which had been kept in storage for more than a decade, because he doesn’t “sit well” with Cardinal Blase Cupich, who he claims is trying to minimize the Catholic church’s sex abuse crisis. Kalchik also told the newspaper that he himself was sexually abused — first by a neighbor as a child and then by a priest when he was 19.
“I can’t sit well with people like Cardinal Cupich, who minimizes all of this,” Kalchik told the Sun-Times.
“Excuse me, but almost all of the [abuse] cases are, with respect to priests, bishops and whatnot, taking and using other young men sexually. It’s definitely a gay thing.”
Kalchik announced his intention to burn the flag in a church bulletin dated Sept. 2, according to the Windy City Times, which first reported the flag burning plans. When officials with the Archdiocese of Chicago caught wind of it, they told him not to move forward with his plan, but that didn’t stop Kalchik, who burned the flag a couple weeks later.
Anne Maselli, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said of the controversy: “We are following up on the situation. As Catholics, we affirm the dignity of all persons.”
The protest is “not an indictment of this church or its parishioners who we know to be good people,” Mell said, adding that “they have long been a part of this community. We respect Fr. Paul’s right to free speech.”
She continued, saying, “We feel the symbolism of burning a object meant to demonize our community needs to be counteracted with a peaceful, loving and compassionate response.”
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