A look at Fr. Pfleger’s parish in Chicago

I am amazed that Fr. Pfleger continues in his office of pastor at St. Sabina Church in Chicago. 

A reader sent me this:

A day or two ago I decided to see what St. Sabina’s website has to offer http://www.saintsabina.org/.

In looking through the various pages on the site I gradually realized a lacuna – there is almost no way to tell whether or not it is still a Catholic parish. 

– The parish is ever-referred to as ‘the Faith Community of Saint Sabina". 

– On the mission page it states that "St. Sabina is a Word-based, Bible teaching church" and that it is a "Is committed to building a Third Day Church". 

– Mass is only mentioned once on the site – in the history, in reference to the first Mass "celebrated in a storefront on South Racine Avenue." 

– The only other sacrament that is mentioned, once, is Confirmation – because it is on the calendar of events… even in that entry is a hidden oddity, it states, "If you were baptized in April 2010, please sign the form below and return to Minister Kimberly Lymore by April 5, 2010."  I didn’t know ‘Minister’ was a title one could take to herself.

– Mass is never on the schedule, only "worship services".

– Baptism, marriage, confession, Eucharist, pastoral care of the sick in any form are never mentioned.

– the only mention of ordination is, of course, that of Fr. Pfleger [who, it is noted became the youngest - at the time in 1981 - 'full pastor in the diocese'... perhaps that was one of the first mistakes].

Finally, I found it interesting to see that he had the famous Rev. Jeremiah Wright preach the two last words of the ‘Seven Last Words’ on Good Friday past.

The question is – has he maintained, and helped his parish to maintain Communion with the Catholic Church, whether particular [in Chicago] or Universal [i.e. in Communion with the Apostolic See]?

 

UPDATE 22:28 GMT

From a reader:

To follow-up on your question as to whether Fr Pfleger is in communion with the Church, I decided to look at his parish’s website.

One thing in particular struck me.  He calls himself "Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Pfleger."  However, according to the biography, his doctorate is honoris causa.

No person is permitted to affix "Dr" before his name upon receiving an honorary doctorate, even though this is a consistent practise of many Protestant theologians.  Jerry Falwell is a classic example of this.  I find Fr Pfleger to be strangely Protestant on this point.

Fr Pfleger has done many good works.  If only he were more Catholic, his works would be so much more meritorious.

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72 Responses to A look at Fr. Pfleger’s parish in Chicago

  1. John Weidner says:

    One wonders if the diocese fears schism if they push too hard?

  2. diezba says:

    I think the point being made by the reader (and, frankly, by Fr. Pfleger himself, if you read his comments on American Papist’s blog) is that the Church of St. Sabina is already in schism.

    What don’t understand is this: why do people like Fr. Pfleger maintain the pretense of being Catholic? Why do they not become their own non-denominational church. Or, if they prefer, some sort of Progressive Catholic? Or Episcopalian? Why do they want to be a member of a Church — and in communion with a Church — that does not hold to the faith they confess?

  3. I always thought that calling a church “the community of X” was a distinctive of the liberal wing of the Catholic Church. I mean, are there really any other churches stupid enough to do this?

  4. irishgirl says:

    Ugh-two words that grit my teeth: ‘Faith Community’ instead of ‘Parish’.

    What the heck does Fr. Pfleger mean by ‘Third Day Church’?

    Smackdown, anyone….?

  5. Frank H says:

    Even how he renders his title/name seems protestant – “The Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Pfleger”.

    And I see his doctorate is honorary.

  6. John Weidner says:

    It’s important to always keep in mind that in “liberal Christianity,” the Civil Rights Movement, and everything within its penumbra, is holy. To deny the divinity of Christ is daring and provocative; to deny the divinity of Dr King is unthinkable.

    I remember a sermon I heard when I was an Episcopalian, about a seminary student who went south in the Civil Rights Movement and was killed. He was called an “Anglican saint,” and he apparently has a window in Canterbury Cathedral or some such place. And the sermon mentioned no Christian virtues of this person whatsoever.

    I would guess that to many of the people who run the Chicago Church, Fr. Pfleger is a saint. They would never express this openly, and probably never even consciously, but he has wrapped himself in the luminous mantle of the Civil Rights Movement, (and “progressive” race-obsessed politics) and is probably considered untouchable.

  7. Paul says:

    Agreed, “faith community” is a huge, red flag. I’m sure not every “faith community” is this far from the fold, but it certainly is an indicator, IMHO.

    Paul

  8. tjtenor2 says:

    “And I see his doctorate is honorary.”

    Given the myriad typos on his Facebook page, I sure hope so…

  9. He ISN’T a priest. He’s a demagogue.

  10. Frank H says:

    Wow!

    I just watched his streaming video “sermon” from yesterday. Over 65 minutes in length! And no sign that it was part of a Catholic Mass. Very strange.

  11. TC says:

    Looks like a perfectly normal AME parish.

  12. shellac says:

    What the heck does Fr. Pfleger mean by ‘Third Day Church’? Er..mu guess and its just a guess…Third Day ie Easter. However its just a shot in the dark.

  13. shellac says:

    Ack that should read MY guess. SO sorry all.

  14. mdinan says:

    Perhaps it’s simply because I’m from Rochester, NY, but…this doesn’t even shock/surprise me. It’s pretty much standard, par-for-the-course behavior here. We appoint nuns from the Women’s Ordination Conference to head Parishes. They preach. Some of them wear albs and stand alongside the priest for the consecration. They don’t promote sacramental awareness. I’m sure some of you recall Corpus Christi/Spiritus Christi here in Rochester, where a priest and much of his flock entered full schism with the Church–they now think they can ordain women, perform homosexual marriages, and everything else you can think of. Pfleger sounds like a goon, sure, but there’s a few priests in my Diocese who I’d love to see him replace! Terrible? yes. Should he be stopped? Yes. Is he the worst of the bunch? No, unfortunately, he isn’t.

  15. Will D. says:

    I’ll say this much for Pfather Pfleger, the parish’s website is leaps and bounds better than most. Half the parish sites in my neck of the woods don’t look like they’ve been updated since 1996.

    Having said that, I notice that he’s never referred to as “Father” on the site, only “Pastor,” which strikes me as another protestant (AME) usage. Strange.

  16. Marius2k4 says:

    Three things:
    1) The Buddha-esque, black Jesus.
    2) The rainbow altar-cloth.
    3) They’re encouraging donating to UNICEF.

    Why is His Eminence Cardinal George allowing this scandal to persist? Why is he allowing himself to offer scandal by not shepherding his wayward priest? The very identity of the Church is being obscured, all in what can only be attributed to an ill-begotten and poorly-executed attempt at interracial evangelization.

    The black population of Chicago deserves the fullness of the Catholic faith; not a mockery of it.

  17. JohnW says:

    We all need to pray to St. Michael the Archangel as this is evil in the church. Let us all pray that this is rooted out.

  18. Ralph says:

    Reading the web page, it is evident to me that this “Faith Community” has no interest in anything Catholic. Why are they still “in communion” as a parrish? Why don’t they go off and join the protestants?

    I don’t mean this as a critique. Rather, I simply don’t understand why they stay with the Church when they so obviously want nothing to do with her?

    Pray for Father Pfleger and for Card. George. Both really need our prayers right now.

  19. Cath says:

    Diezba “why do people like Fr. Pfleger maintain the pretense of being Catholic”

    My guess is maybe a bit of ego. If he breaks off and forms his own church he is just another of many and would garner no attention from Catholics or others. If he remains Catholic he can see himself as a martyr fighting against what he cannot understand or acknowledge is the True Faith. As long as he is Catholic, he is a rebel. If he would leave the Church, no one would notice him anymore, except maybe a few misguided souls.

  20. chironomo says:

    Ughh… yes, we have several parishes in our diocese that have taken the monicker “The St.XXX Faith Community”, or the possibly more damaging “St. XXX Parish Community”. I have made a point of having all references I make to my parish as “Incarnation Catholic Church”….

  21. chironomo says:

    What the heck does Fr. Pfleger mean by ‘Third Day Church’? Er..mu guess and its just a guess…Third Day ie Easter. However its just a shot in the dark.

    No, the Third Day movement has nothing to do with Easter, or at least not in the sense you would recognize. This blurb from a website of the Third Day Churches:

    Third Day theology is a prophetic movement within Christianity that focuses on biblical scriptures that mention the phrase “third day” and seeks to apply what it sees are the benefits and promises of those scriptures for our time. Adherents claim that the third day is now, the third thousand years of Christ’s reign. Sequentially, the third day follows the first and second days. The first day is where we leave the old ways behind. The second day is the process of holding onto the promises of God that have not yet been fulfilled. Day three is the victory and receiving of the promises of God with an emphasis on personal development and spiritual improvement. Therefore, a third day church is a church that is looking for new ways to “do church” by leaving the old ways and moving onto the new ones that will be revealed, allegedly, by the Holy Spirit unto greater spiritual growth and prosperity. Generally, Third Day Churches are charismatic, pentecostal, emphasize present day apostles, prophets, prophetic utterances, and approve of women pastors

  22. chironomo says:

    To add to my above post, it would seem that by saying that he “Is committed to building a Third Day Church”, he is formally announcing his separation from the Catholic Church. The Third Day Churches are a distinct organization, and his use of the capitalized term would seem to indicate that he means that they consider themselves a member of the Third Day Churches, not the Catholic Church. Any further comments on this?…

  23. Randii says:

    Like mdinan, I live in a progressive N. California diocese. Fr. Phleger’s parish type is, if not standard. somewhat common here too.

    Basically you select a partish based on your proclivity. There are affirmning parishes, charismatic parishes, somewhat reverent parishes and somewhat irreverent parishes as well as a traditional parish.

    As to why Fr. Pleger’s parish is not closed, I think part of it may be it’s size. Fr, Phleger has grown the parish to one of the 2 or 3 largest in the diocese. But basically I think bishops allow for a variety of expressions by the faithful in many American diocese. That certainly seems to be the norm.

    BTW, in the diocese I live in there are churche’s called Catholic Faith Community of ….. Isn’t that fairly common? I am on the mailing list for Catholic Extension (how that happened I don’t know and I can’t seem to get them to remove me) but in the past some of the new churches they tout as having helped build have been called Catholic Faith Community of such and such.

    St. Sabina’s is just the tip of the iceberg IMO in terms of the actual “on the ground” situation of many American parishes.

  24. Daniel Latinus says:

    If you remember, during, or just before, the 2008 presidential campaign, there was an attempt by the Archdiocese of Chicago to move Fr. Pfleger to another parish. (Apparently, pastors are supposed to serve a term of seven years or so.) The story was leaked to the press, there were demonstrations. IIRC, Pfleger threatened to open shop as an independent if he was removed from St. Sabina’s. The Archdiocese backed down.

    Because this situation happened only a short time ago, I was surprised when the Archdiocese decided to honor Pfleger with an award. (I got the feeling that the award was planned and announced by officials in the diocesan bureaucracy in such a way that Cardinal George couldn’t intervene or recind the award without another dust-up.)

    Fr. Pfleger will probably remain in place indefinitely. However, I suspect that once he’s gone, St. Sabina’s will evaporate. I am not sure what is being saved here, other than face.

  25. PostCatholic says:

    I’ll say this much for Pfather [sic] Pfleger, the parish’s website is leaps and bounds better than most.

    It’s an excellent Joomla template. Andy Miller and the team at RocketThemes I’m sure appreciate your credit where credit is due. :)

    I noticed on that site that one of the church’s missions is called “The Beloved Community”, which is a phrase the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. popularized, based on his embrace of Unitarian theologies he studied in Boston. “Beloved Community” is a term coined by objective idealist philosopher Josiah Royce, and is central to his ethical theory. Nice to see us UU’s having such long arms into Catholic social justice.

    Couldn’t resist, thought some of the armchair philosophers around here would like some red meat.

  26. Servant of the Liturgy says:

    I see Bishop Paprocki will be confirming at St. Sabina next month. Maybe he’ll come bearing some words from His Eminence. Or, maybe he’ll be reporting back to His Eminence on the state of things, as if he didn’t know. Either way, let’s hope and pray for some kind of action to be taken here.

  27. robtbrown says:

    Basically you select a partish based on your proclivity. There are affirmning parishes, charismatic parishes, somewhat reverent parishes and somewhat irreverent parishes as well as a traditional parish.
    Comment by Randii

    So much for the parish being primarily a geographical designation.

  28. Scott W. says:

    What don’t understand is this: why do people like Fr. Pfleger maintain the pretense of being Catholic? Why do they not become their own non-denominational church.

    Because it is what I call a negative witness to Truth. For all their thumbing at Church teaching, retaining the title of Catholic is essential because they know it gives their thumbings legitimacy. If they broke off, they’d be yet another dime-a-dozen denomination competing for attention like so many products on the shelf at Wal Mart.

  29. Leonius says:

    A third day church is a church that is looking for new ways to “do church” by abandoning the apostolic traditions in favour of making a church that better fits their worldliness, its just a way of saying they are modernists.

    As to why they don’t go and be protestants its quite simple, they can better achieve their aims where they are.

  30. John Weidner says:

    Scott W,

    I like your phrase, “negative witness to Truth.” We see a lot of it around us. Nobody cares about Presbyterian sex-abuse, or hold an Anglican “black mass.”

  31. robtbrown says:

    I noticed on that site that one of the church’s missions is called “The Beloved Community”, which is a phrase the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. popularized, based on his embrace of Unitarian theologies he studied in Boston. “Beloved Community” is a term coined by objective idealist philosopher Josiah Royce, and is central to his ethical theory. Nice to see us UU’s having such long arms into Catholic social justice.
    Comment by PostCatholic

    Ralph Waldo Emerson was originally a Unitarian. Following the death of his young wife, he made daily trips to her family’s vault to spend a few moments at her tomb. After 14 months he opened her coffin (not unusual in those days). The sight her remains caused him to realize that Unitarianism, with its emphasis on ethics and conscience as the door to religion, was incapable of dealing with the existential question of death. It was then that he began to turn to what has been referred to as Transcendentialism.

  32. laurazim says:

    I did see the words “Catholic” and “Father” on the site–but I never did see the word MASS. I also noticed that there is quite a lengthy section describing all aspects of Father Pfleger in all of his earthly accomplishments–centers, organizations, foundations, etc., etc., etc.–but no mention of the Sacraments. He claims to be an “errand boy” for Jesus, but draws no obvious connection to leading the faithful Catholics entrusted to his pastoral care to Our Lord through ministering the Sacraments to them. At the same time, it seems he has not problem SELLING copies of his addresses and speeches to his parish, and no trouble bringing in “guest speakers”–in place of homilies? Or just as commentators during the “services” offered? No mention of Holy Days of Obligation, no schedule for Confession…what a tragedy.

    “I must decrease, He must increase…” It seems the good Father has yet to get that particular memo.

  33. Randii says:

    So much for the parish being primarily a geographical designation.

    Comment by robtbrown

    Basically, for practical purposes, the geographic parish doesn’t exist so much anymore in large urban dioceses.

    Why? Because of what we are talking about – the variety of ways pastors and parsihes “do Catholic”.

    One poster noted above how she travels, despite poor health, 50 miles to a parish in the Portland area that suits her. Again, this is very common.

    You really see it in younger practicing Catholics in my area who like the pentecostal style and gravitate to several parishes that have charismatic priests, “gifts” services and healing Masses. It’s also common for folks looking for an affirming style of Catholcism as well as the strict traditionalist group.

  34. Dr. K says:

    “In 1981, Father Pfleger became the proud adoptive father of an eight-year-old son, Lamar. In 1992, he also became the adoptive father of Beronti. In 1997, he became a foster father to Jarvis Franklin, who was tragically killed as a result of gang crossfire, May 30, 1998.” (Source: http://www.saintsabina.org/pastors-biography.html)

    Oh really?

  35. Marius2k4 says:

    [b]One poster noted above how she travels, despite poor health, 50 miles to a parish in the Portland area that suits her. Again, this is very common.[/b] – Randii

    My wife and I drive 45 minutes every Sunday morning from a suburb of Houston, TX into downtown for a Tridentine Mass. I would not be able to, in good conscience, receive Communion at most Novus Ordo Masses that I’ve attended, given that I would be so upset at the throng of altar girls, EMs, offensive music, etc.

    That drive, from what I hear, is fairly common among traditionalists. If the Holy See would only reinstitute (and enforce) strict rubrics and norms, or better yet, return the liturgy of the Church to the Usus Antiquior, we traditionalists would be able to actually attend a geographic parish, and the modernists would have the ball in their court as to whether to retain the “Catholic” moniker, given that they will no longer be enabled in their heterodoxy.

    May almighty God bless our Pope, and may orthodoxy and obedience overtake our Church at all levels.

  36. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    I watched the live stream of their “worship service” yesterday, and it was scandalous.

    There was liturgical dancing, and shouting, flag waving, a guy in an undershirt and a sport coat wandering around leading a praise service, all before the procession. There were several statements by both “the reverend dr. pfleger” and the above mentioned guy while Reverend stood in the aisle. And unless I missed it somewhere (unlikely) they went straight from this “praise and worship” (which lasted 30-45 minutes) into the first reading. No opening prayer, no penitential rite, no Gloria, nothing.

    I watched just the start of the homily to see what would be mentioned of the scandal last week, hoping for an actual apology/explanation. Instead he ranted on how somebody hacked their website and did something illegal, now he thought about taking the livestream down because of that (but what of those who are homebound or in prisons that watch their Mass?) and how he won’t give the grievance any mention in the homily and anyone who has questions could ask him afterward (I would be very interested to know what he would have said, the conspiracist in me guesses it wasn’t church teaching, and by doing it where there is no camera, he could promote heresy without worrying about backlash

  37. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    Second post,

    But it is also clear from his facebook, the “faith community’s” website and his service yesterday, reverend dr. Pfleger thinks extremely high of himself. Its very strange.

  38. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I think that like others here, I have become very jaded myself. As I look at the parish website, I also think it is typical (sadly) of many parishes in U.S. Catholic dioceses. It really does not seem more liberal. In fact, St. Sabina’s actually puts emphasis on the Bible, whereas the typical liberal, Catholic parish has “moved beyond” Scripture to other ways that God reveals truth (e.g. the Democratic party platform) and are warmed over new-age paganism. At least St. Sabina’s seems like a God-fearing Pentecostal church (LOL).

    My prayer is that after a period of defensive circling of the wagons, Pfleger will allow the shocked reactions of others to give him pause and see the great dangers in the road he is heading down. As a priest, I can say that if my diocese had awarded me and for years encouraged my “cutting edge” style of ministry, only to suddenly give me smackdown when I went public, I would be pretty bitter too.

    Perhaps I am being a pushover, but I have a certain sympathy for this priest as a person (not at all agreeing with his direction). He is simply doing what he (and numerous priests in Chicago and elsewhere) has always been encouraged to do, by the powers that be. Now that he is on the internet for the world to see, he must feel singled out. I too would scratch my head in wonder and think, “what gives with all the haters?”

  39. jeffmcl says:

    I like the “Pastor Portraits” section. I don’t recall having seen that before on a Catholic Church web site. I particularly like the shot of him in the purple vestments with the ankh on the front… Just when I had finished convincing my Protestant brother that Jack Chick is wrong and that Catholicism is *not* an Egyptian-pagan cult, here’s a priest with an ankh on his vestments. Ah well.

  40. I mentioned his in another Pfleger discussion so forgive me if it’s redundant.

    Renegade parishes happen in all sorts of places and we all know it, but there is something more at play here. My guess is that many American cities have a parish or parishes that have a predominantly black membership that are in varying degrees only barely recognizable as Catholic. St. Sabina is an extreme case, but I can tell you that Baltimore has at least one black-protestant-Catholic-hybrid parish, and I suspect many other cities do as well.

    I think the mindset of those bishops who first turned a blind eye to this is that it is somehow charitable to allow some form of “inculturation” in these places. Obviously, it’s really cheating the people as Fr. Z and others have said, but I suspect this is how it started. And once the people grew used to this being the way things are at their parish, it takes an unfortunately rare shepherd with the wherewithal to make the necessary changes.

    The same can probably be said for the Hispanic community as well.

    How many diocesan newspapers in urban dioceses have a section called Africentric or Hispanic?

    I have an idea; how about we just be Catholic?

  41. seanm says:

    While the liturgical and sacramental life of this parish seems to be absolutely terrible and I would hesitate to even refer to it as Catholic (the parish seems to have that same hesitation!, there are some things which are not so terrible. I think that perhaps the non-violence promotion and the turn in a gun no questions asked program sound like they could make a positive impact on a city parish… perhaps this priest missed his calling as a community organizer, because as a priest he sort of fails

  42. irishgirl says:

    mdinan-I’m from the diocese to the east of you. I know about ‘Spiritus Christi’ when it first came out. Some of the priests from my area who were all for its positions [especially female 'ordination' - ugh] went out there when the ‘priestess’ was ‘ordained’!

    My deepest sympathy to you for having to live in Rochester. When does Bishop Clark retire?

  43. I think they need to appoint an associate, or a “co-adjutor” pastor to this parish

  44. Nathan says:

    Fr. Sotelo: “Perhaps I am being a pushover, but I have a certain sympathy for this priest as a person (not at all agreeing with his direction). He is simply doing what he (and numerous priests in Chicago and elsewhere) has always been encouraged to do, by the powers that be.”

    Father, IMO you are spot-on, not a pushover at all. You point to something I think may be a huge headache for good, holy bishops for the next generation or so–how can you come in and correct someone who is going in the wrong direction, but has been encouraged to and rewarded for that behavior by your predecessors, or your chancery staff, or your metropolitan, or the seminary that’s been training your priests for the past twenty to thirty years?

    This isn’t simply a matter of a bishop being right and the priest being wrong, and it’s not something that’s going to be solved by firing one or two pastors. IMO, fixing the situation that has led to the current St Sabina’s is going to take a generation of bringing up younger priests and forming them in the orthodox doctrine, theology, and liturgy.

    That doesn’t mean, though, that I think H.E. Card. George shouldn’t act re Fr. Pfleger–it just means that the problem’s a lot bigger than this one priest.

    In Christ,

  45. Peggy R says:

    In 1981, a black priest in Chicago adopted a boy. He declined to adopt a second, perhaps on some hierarchical advice. I bet Fr. Pfleger wanted to mimic this act of charity. Here’s a story from 1981:

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1338&dat=19811127&id=xqsSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=VPkDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5113,4432873

    ***
    Also, we have a priest, recently deceased, in So-Il who had adopted a boy who is now grown and married with kids. I am surprised the bishop at the time let him. There’s no indication that this was a boy in need with nowhere else to go. I read the priest’s story a few years ago. It was very odd and did not seem to indicate a good understanding of the priesthood. The priest felt like a lonely bachelor. He deliberately sought to adopt. I suspect he had ordained in the lats 60s, with the impression that he might marry one day. The progressives of the day probably fed him and some others of his era a false bill of goods.

  46. Oleksander says:

    what is a “affirming style Catholic parish” people keep mentioning???

  47. Fr. Pfleger is not doing anything or saying anything that I have not seen before, and in parishes in the
    Archdiocese of Minneapolis-St.Paul. It’s getting better here but some of the usual suspects are still
    around. However, for the most part, they’ve learned, because they’ve had more experience, to “lay low” and stay out of the
    media. That doesn’t mean, however, they’ve quit preaching the same dissenting stuff as Fr. Pfleger does
    but from their own pulpits on any given Sunday.

    Back in the day, some of the local “color” used to tape (audiocassette) their stuff and some of it was
    sent to Rome. If there were serious repercussions for any of that evidence I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it.

    But, it’s the age old story, some people are better connected and play better with others which is why
    some priests farm and raise bonsais or work in nursing homes as exiles while others seem to “get away with it”

    Yes, I’m cranky today.

  48. GregH says:

    I feel bad that African Americans get stuck with this kind of crap. They deserve better.

  49. Henry Edwards says:

    GregH: I feel bad that African Americans get stuck with this kind of crap. They deserve better.

    Every Catholic in every Catholic parish deserves authentic Catholic worship. Anything else is abuse the Church should not tolerate. Too much abuse of too many types has been inflicted on Catholics in recent decades.

  50. Scott W. says:

    “affirming style Catholic parish”

    It means the only sin you will ever hear about is intolerance.

  51. “Perhaps I am being a pushover, but I have a certain sympathy for this priest as a person (not at all agreeing with his direction). He is simply doing what he (and numerous priests in Chicago and elsewhere) has always been encouraged to do, by the powers that be.”

    I can kind of see your point, Fr. Sotelo, but while he deserves our pity on some level I don’t think there are any real mitigating circumstances here.

    I liken this to a Catholic whose pastor and other “powers that be” have given the rotten advice, “Sure you’re divorced and civilly re-married outside the Church…” or “sure, you’re a practicing lesbian pro-abortion politician, but join us at the Lord’s table for Holy Communion anyway…”

    Underneath the bad advice is that voice inside (not to mention the voice of Holy Mother Church) that says, “I shouldn’t do this.”

    At the end of the day, Fr. Pfleger is doing what he darn well pleases and for one reason – it’s exactly what he chooses to do. What anyone else may have encouraged doesn’t change anything. He’s not a child. He knows better.

  52. It is quite obvious that the cardinal archbishop approves of this parish and the antics of its pastor. Why else would he have been reinstated after two weeks in 2008, why else would he still be in charge of this parish, why else would he be tolerated as a diocesan priest?

  53. Randii says:

    what is a “affirming style Catholic parish” people keep mentioning???

    Comment by Oleksander

    Affirming parishes are open to all lifestyles. Here in California during the Prop. 8 debate the affirming Catholic parishes opposed Prop 8 and their pastors spoke out against it. These parishes wouldn’t allow signatures to be gathered for Prop. 8 on their premises. These parishes often have “friendship blessings”. They are fairly common in the large metro areas of California.

  54. Re: priests who adopt

    For a priest to adopt or become a child’s guardian is not unheard of, just as sisters and nuns occasionally adopt children. It’s generally something that happens because there’s some emergency need and no other parent can be found, or because the priest is the closest living relative to an orphaned child.

    Fr. McGivney, who founded the Knights of Columbus, ended up having guardianship over several children in the course of his career.

    Tolkien was put under his parish priest’s guardianship when his mother died, because the mother’s anti-Catholic relatives would have nothing to do with her children.

    So let’s not assume the worst, shall we?

  55. Scott W. says:

    So let’s not assume the worst, shall we?

    I agree. The priest in the diocese before I moved adopted as well and he was no-nonsense. We have plenty of legitimate beefs with Fr. Fleger as it is.

  56. I added the following as an UPDATE to the top entry:

    From a reader:

    To follow-up on your question as to whether Fr Pfleger is in communion with the Church, I decided to look at his parish’s website.
    One thing in particular struck me.  He calls himself “Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Pfleger.”  However, according to the biography, his doctorate is honoris causa.
    No person is permitted to affix “Dr” before his name upon receiving an honorary doctorate, even though this is a consistent practise of many Protestant theologians.  Jerry Falwell is a classic example of this.  I find Fr Pfleger to be strangely Protestant on this point.
    Fr Pfleger has done many good works.  If only he were more Catholic, his works would be so much more meritorious.

  57. mdinan says:

    @irishgirl
    As you can see on
    http://cleansingfiredor.blogspot.com/
    H.E. Bp. Clark retires in 817 days…not that we’re counting.

    Incidentally, has anyone else seen the video about Fr. Pfleger on RealCatholicTV?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP0j4SW2YTE

  58. Hamburglar says:

    Thanks for the video mdinan. It seems to me Fr. Pfleger is certainly in schism. He says it best himself: “I don’t need the Cardinal, I don’t need the Pope”

  59. M. K. says:

    Given Fr. Pfleger’s situation and others mentioned in the above comments, I would be interested in hearing more on the issue of diocesan priests becoming adoptive parents or guardians of children. I don’t have a problem with the basic idea; as some have noted here, there may be cases when doing so is in the best interest of the child. I wonder, though, about some of the practical issues involved. Providing financial support for a child on a diocesan priest’s salary cannot be easy. (To provide context for this point, I know a number of married Eastern Catholic priests with children; some of these priests work a ‘day job’ during the week in addition to their pastoral duties, and their wives have jobs as well – they simply wouldn’t be able to support their families on a pastor’s salary.) I also wonder how an unmarried diocesan priest would be able to successfully balance two tasks that are both often seen as all-encompassing: ministering to a parish and caring for a small child.

  60. kelleyb says:

    I do not have time tonight to read all the comments so someone may have already said this. When we lived in Chicago, I was told that Pfleger threatened to leave the Roman Church with great fanfare if push came to shove. He promised to take his congregation and many others to his own church..etc. He would gladly participate in the creation of the great American catholic church.
    God have mercy on all of us.

  61. patrick_f says:

    Smacks of Protestantism

    Non Serviam – Does that echo in anyone’s ears?

    The whole “Word based bible church” smacks of pentacostalism . Most of the pentecostal preachers are word of faith, liberation theologians – You wont hear about God’s sacrifice , instead you will hear about breaking your own bonds, and doing everything yourself because you are “empowered”, oh and there is this God dude too

    Eminence George, if you frequent this blog, Please shepherd this church. Dont be afraid to use the back side of your Crozier to move a stubbourn sheep named Pfleger, you are dangerously close to your own “St Stanislaus” , different circumstances, same result, a rogue catholic parish

  62. Jayna says:

    That Third Day nonsense sounds suspiciously like how I hear the Religious Education department describe our parish as a “Resurrection parish.” Or, rather, how they justified complaining about a crucifix being installed in the church.

    Sometimes I don’t understand why some of these people even bother staying in the Church. It’s obvious that they hate the time-honored (and theologically sound) traditions of the Church and certainly plan to disregard the coming reforms. If they really, truly believed in the unity of the Church, you’d think they’d be a little more fastidious in actually trying to maintain communion. It really does boggle the mind.

  63. PostCatholic says:

    Actually, as I was saying earlier, it smacks of post-Christianity. Yay!

  64. robtbrown says:

    Perhaps I am being a pushover, but I have a certain sympathy for this priest as a person (not at all agreeing with his direction). He is simply doing what he (and numerous priests in Chicago and elsewhere) has always been encouraged to do, by the powers that be. Now that he is on the internet for the world to see, he must feel singled out. I too would scratch my head in wonder and think, “what gives with all the haters?”
    Comment by Fr_Sotelo

    Almost 30 years ago, when Rome started putting pressure on Abp Hunthausen of Seattle, he noted that he was doing the same things that got him promoted.

  65. Francisco Cojuanco says:

    And this kind of stuff (though fortunately, the theology hasn’t gone down the drain along with the liturgy – a minor miracle, I suspect, perhaps having to do with the fact the priests concerned are O.P.) is why, except for one time (just to see if what my friends had told me were true) I do not attend my geographic parish (not too far from the University where I stay). Instead, I attend either the next-closest English speaking one (which is a short bus ride downtown) or the Spanish-speaking parish (even closer, but unfortunately on the wrong side of the tracks – it’s an ethnic parish in a barrio), where, while not perfect, stuff is actually done reverently.

  66. Ah, but Father Z…if you attack this Black church, you’d be called “racist” – slander, but in this political climate, it’s gonna happen. Sigh…and never mind the fact that the real racists in this case are those who would deny the fullness of the Faith to the Black community and give them this garbage instead.

    The preaching of the feminist UCC “minister” Candace Chellew-Hodge is more Catholic than the twaddle from that “parish” – Google the name if you don’t recognise it (lucky you!).

  67. bookworm says:

    “I see Bishop Paprocki will be confirming at St. Sabina next month. Maybe he’ll come bearing some words from His Eminence. Or, maybe he’ll be reporting back to His Eminence on the state of things”

    If that’s the case, it’s probably going to be one of Bp. Paprocki’s last assignments for the Cardinal… Rocco over at “Whispers” says he’s being appointed to Springfield today! (I’m doing my little happy dance!)

  68. JonM says:

    Father S brings up an important point in that there is an inherent challenge scolding someone for doing what has earned praise and promotion.

    In this case, as early as a few days ago.

    On a different point, use of the term ‘faith community’ is rather ironic because Protestants usually throw a fit if you refer to their assembly as a faith community.

    It is hard to know, but the sad fact is that Christ might be at St. Sabina, subject to terrible abuse.

    I think Fr. Pfleger adopting on its own isn’t a major issue; as another posted, of all people JRR Tolien was adopted by a priest (NB Tolkien is said to have abhorred the Novus Ordo). The objection in Fr. Pfleger’s case is that it seems to have been another installment of many in ignoring the Bishop.

    So, I reiterate, I think this Priest was poorly formed and thus has a warped notion of what is the Priesthood.

  69. cstei says:

    You know, I have been doing alot of my own reading the last few weeks on Father Pfleger the past 2 weeks and have come to the conclusion in my own mind that Saint Sabina’s while on the outside is Catholic is really and truly a Protestant Church. The thing that bothers me the most is why is it that when Priests are disobedient and threaten to start a break away church if they don’t get their own way just simply told not to let the door hit them on their way out. Why are the Bishops so afraid of scandal that they will allow things to fester causing so many souls to be led away in the process? Perhaps the real problem is not really renegade Priests as much as it is a content Episcopacy that is so content sleeping under a tree that they forget about the sheep they have been entrusted to watch over.

  70. poohbear says:

    When we lived in Chicago, I was told that Pfleger threatened to leave the Roman Church with great fanfare if push came to shove. He promised to take his congregation and many others to his own church..etc. He would gladly participate in the creation of the great American catholic church.

    Maybe this is what the Church in America needs– let those who disagree with the true Church leave to start their own “american catholyc church”. At least then everyone would know where they stand, and we could stop having to wonder wnat’s going to happen every time we walk into Mass.

  71. poohbear says:

    oops– should be ‘what’s going to happen’ not wnat’s

    On a side note, the discussion has been removed from Fr P’s facebook page. Its too bad, since there were a couple of brave souls doing some great teaching on the thread and it looked like some people from the parish were actually interested in what they were saying.

  72. cstei says:

    If they were interested in what was being said that is probably why he removed it.One could look at Fr Pfleger as a cult leader, in my opinion. It would be a threat to have his followers actually knowing the truth.