Chicago Sun-Times

So a Chicago priest who was once abused burns a rainbow-cross flag: All heck breaks out

So a Chicago priest who was once abused burns a rainbow-cross flag: All heck breaks out

Well, here is a hot-button story if I’ve ever seen one. Take a look at this headline atop the report at “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:

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After Charleston shooting, some mainstream media grasp spirituality of forgiveness

After Charleston shooting, some mainstream media grasp spirituality of forgiveness

Dylann Roof, the accused murderer of nine people at a black church in Charleston, S.C., reportedly wanted to start a race war. Instead, the members wept, grieved, worshiped and forgave.

And this time, some of the mainstream media actually got it: They appeared to grasp the spiritual grace that enabled people to forgive the killer.

The Los Angeles Times pooled four reporters for a moving, evocative account at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, site of the Wednesday shooting. They reported church bells ringing at 10 a.m. across Charleston and note that the town is nicknamed the "Holy City." They report as do other media, that the church is known as Mother Emanuel for its long heritage.

The reporters note the many people weeping and embracing, black and white alike. And they quote an amazing 11 people, including a woman who rose before 5 a.m. to be first in line for the service.

The 1,600 words are also salted with religious references.  The story notes hymns like Total Praise and Amazing Grace.  It quotes the Rev. Norvel Goff, a presiding AME elder for South Carolina, opening the service with "This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice, rejoice and be glad in it!" -- and the story locates the passage in the Psalms.

And the article quotes a fervent prayer at length:

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Women as clergy: The stained-glass ceiling and one-sided journalism

Women as clergy: The stained-glass ceiling and one-sided journalism

For the Chicago Sun-Times, the question of whether to ordain women as preachers has only one right answer.

In a story headlined "Female ministers find obstacles on path to pulpit," the Sun-Times makes it clear which direction it leans:

Carol Jamieson Brown was in her early 20s when she told her pastor she had answered a call from God to pursue ministry and enrolled in seminary.
But he put the brakes on her plans — he didn’t acknowledge women ministers.
“He had been my pastor since I was 5 years old,” Brown said. “So it was like your father telling you that God didn’t call you. He had to be right, and I had to be wrong. There was no room for him to be wrong in my life.”
Many years later, she found room. Today she is pastor of First Baptist Church of Park Forest and among those who’ve made cracks in a stained-glass ceiling that continues to block women clergy and is nowhere close to being shattered.

In this story, "progress" is defined in terms of whether churches allow women in the pulpit or not.

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Nuns, strippers and the never-boring Godbeat

Sister Mary Clarence could totally fix this: Nuns file suit over noisy strip club next door: Two words: nuns, strippers. AP colleague on this irresistible story also touching on zoning law, strip club rights:

Suburban nuns step up fight against neighboring strip club: @nbcphilrogers

— NBC5 Investigates (@NBC5Investigate) June 10, 2014

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Chicago photographer waits for new assignment from God

So, who has been following the drama that unfolded early this month up in Chicago, where the professional photographers at The Chicago Sun-Times were hit by the roller coaster of digital change earlier this month? To make a long story short, in the age of smartphones and digital video, the management decided to lay off the entire photography staff, award winners and all.

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