Just hours ago, new Chicago auxiliary bishop Mark Bartosic arrived unannounced at Resurrection Parish on Chicago’s Northwest Side and told pastor Paul Kalchik that he had just minutes to get his belongings together and vacate the premises, or the police would be called to arrest him for trespassing.
Fr. Kalchik was about to perform a wedding.
Soon after, Fr. Kalchik left for an undisclosed location, accompanied by his brother, who had been visiting the parish.
Bp. Bartosic performed the wedding instead, hastily slipping out the door of the church only seconds after concluding the ceremony.
Fr. Kalchik had been ordered by Cardinal Cupich and the archdiocese to report for psychiatric counseling and perhaps confinement yesterday after controversy broke concerning the exorcism and burning of a “gay rainbow flag” on parish grounds last week.
Fr. Kalchik had also called for Catholics to “boycott” masses celebrated by Cardinal Cupich due to Cupich’s alleged involvement in the current clerical sex abuse scandal.
The flag – a rainbow with a superimposed cross – had been unveiled above the altar by previous pastor Fr. Daniel Montalbano in 1991 to signal that the parish would be “gay-friendly.” Later taken down, it was rediscovered only recently by Fr. Kalchik.
Fr. Montalbano, a confidant of Cardinal Bernardin, passed away in 1997 at the age of 50.
The “real cause” of Fr. Montalbano’s death was reported by Church Militant as “too sordid to be detailed on paper.”
Today, a small group of parishioners not involved in the wedding but who had heard of the sudden appearance of Bp. Bartosic stood stunned outside the Church. The group included two employees, who were hastily told by the bishop to report to work as normal on Monday.
One of the parishioners, a Chicago policeman, told me of some of the bizarre events of the last week, including numerous threats of death and rape against Fr. Kalchik and at least two probable attempted break-ins or acts of vandalism, one of which included breaking keys into all the locks in the doors of the church office. And then there was the visit by two archdiocese representatives yesterday, ordering Fr. Kalchik to vacate his parish and commit himself into psychiatric confinement.
One of these was Fr. Dennis Lyle, the same prelate who had visited St. John Cantius a few months ago to inform parishioners that their pastor, Fr. Phillips, had been relieved of his position there.
Fr. Kalchik had written of his own psychological trauma after being molested as a boy and as a young adult by two men – one of them a priest – in separate incidents.
The parishioners outside told me that Fr. Kalchik, who has been at Resurrection Parish for eleven years, has the full support of his parish.
Many of them will no doubt discover what happened only tomorrow, when coming to Mass, assuming that it will be celebrated by Fr. Paul, only to encounter Bp. Bartosic.
CORRECTION: We originally reported that Fr. Kalchick had been molested as a boy and young man by two priests in separate incidents; in fact, he was abused by two men, only one of whom was a priest. We have corrected the error in the text.
A version of this story was originally published at Mahound’s Paradise. Reprinted with permission.
Oakes Spalding is a Catholic writer living in Chicago.