Days after he burned an LGBTQ flag in an exorcism ceremony, Rev. Paul Kalchik was removed from his position at Chicago’s Resurrection Catholic Church, it was announced Saturday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, made the decision to remove Kalchik.
“It has become clear to me that Fr. Kalchik must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed," Cupich wrote in a letter to parishioners and staff. "I have a responsibility to be supportive of our priests when they have difficulties, but I also have a duty to ensure that those who serve our faithful are fully able to minister to them in the way the Church expects."
It has not been stated if the decision to oust Kalchik is permanent or not. The response has been overwhelmingly positive by the LGBT community in the Avondale neighborhood, though there are some people who have shown disappointment in the decision to put him on temporary leave.
Paul Bovyn, a parishioner and deacon, voiced his support by saying, "He did his job – he is doing it right now. He’s a preacher, he’s giving his opinion on what he feels. He’s not against anybody, I’m not against anybody."
Even though the decision was made public a few days after the burning, which was met with both protest and signs of support for Kalchik, Anne Maselli, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said that the move was a long time coming.
“This [decision to remove Kalchik] has been in the works for some time and is not directly due to the flag burning," Maselli said in an email.
There has been conflicting information regarding if Kalchik chose to leave voluntarily or not. Another priest, Mark Bartosic, who said he knows Kalchik personally, has gone on record stating, "We talked about what was best for the people and best for Paul, and he decided to step away, I know that the cardinal would like him to take some time off. I don’t know exactly where that will be or for how long."
Kalchik still maintains that he is not homophobic and that the decision to burn the flag was not based on hate. Kalchik told the Tribune, "I’m about as much of a ‘gay basher’ as Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Love the sinner, hate the sin — that’s as harsh as I get."