Well, here is a hot-button story if I’ve ever seen one. Take a look at this headline atop the report at NBCNews.com: “Parishioners defy Chicago Archdiocese, burn rainbow flag in 'exorcism' ceremony.”
Just to give you a hint of how complicated this case is, that headline actually jumps the gun and settles one of the issues that is in dispute. According to parish leaders, the archdiocese ordered the church not to burn the rainbow flag in a ceremony in front of the sanctuary. So parish leaders burned it privately, without a public media show.
One other thing about that headline: It’s crucial to know that this is more than a rainbow flag. This particular flag combined the LGBTQ symbolism with a cross — a move that raised the theological stakes much higher.
So let’s look at a few key sections of this story. Here’s the overture:
In a church bulletin posted this month, the Rev. Paul Kalchik, a Roman Catholic priest at Resurrection Parish in Chicago, announced that he would burn a rainbow pride flag that had once been prominently displayed at the church.
“On Saturday, September 29, the Feast of Saint Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, we will burn, in front of the church, the rainbow flag that was unfortunately hanging in our sanctuary during the ceremonial first Mass as Resurrection parish,” Kalchik, who joined the church 11 years ago, wrote.
A footnote on his announcement stated, “US Church homosexual scandal is a sequel to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
A bit of translation: Obviously, at one point in its history, this parish was on the left side of the American Catholic spectrum. The flag, for example, was prominently displayed during a Mass led by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, a leader whose memory is cherished by gay and progressive Catholics.
Clearly, times have changed at this parish. Here is another crucial passage: