The Pfleger-ization of the Catholic Church… in Chicago

On Real Clear Politics I found this piece by conservative pundette Michele Malkin about some current liberalizing temdencies in the Catholic Church.

My emphases and comments.

April 9, 2010
The Pfleger-ization of the Catholic Church
By Michelle Malkin

So much that you need to know about the Catholic Church’s social policy problems [Along the line she will have to define her terms.  I don’t think "social policy" and "social teaching" can be conflated.  If she makes this rookie mistake, she will stumble into the same hole Glen Beck fell into.] can be summed up in one word: Chicago. On race, abortion, guns, immigration and "community organizing," Catholic Church officials in the Windy City have forged unholy alliances with radical left-wingers and enablers who undermine the faith — and the faithful. [Again, the Church has a body of social teaching.  If in Chicago, or other localities, Catholics have gone to the zoo on social issues, that is to be laid at the doorstep of stupidity, not documents such as, for example, Centesimus annus.]

Exhibit A: the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Racial Justice and one of its most notorious priests, the Rev. Michael Pfleger. This week, Chicago Cardinal Francis George — who also happens to be president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — presided over a gala ceremony honoring Pfleger with a "lifetime achievement award" for his "service in pursuit of dismantling racism, injustice and inequalities on behalf of African Americans and all people of color."

How, pray tell, has Pfleger achieved the officially sanctioned Catholic vision of "racial justice"? [Okay… this seems to be something of a distinction.] By aligning himself with the nation’s worst racial demagogues and using his pulpit at the St. Sabina Catholic Church on Chicago’s Southside to promote poisonous identity politics.

Pfleger (who is white) grabbed the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign with jive-talking defenses of his fellow race-hustler and President Obama’s spiritual mentor the Rev. Jeremiah ("God damn America!" and "AmeriKKKA!") Wright and Jew-bashing hate-monger Louis (Judaism is a "gutter religion") Farrakhan. The racial justice award-winner called the latter a "great man" and welcomed him to his church.

Pfleger, a member of the Catholics for Obama Committee, stoked further racial division by mocking Hillary Clinton’s skin color and accusing her of "white entitlement." It’s one thing to ridicule Hillary’s sense of political and ideological entitlement as part of the Clinton dynasty. But the demagogic emphasis on her race was beyond the pale.

Screamed Pfleger while wearing his Roman Catholic collar during a guest appearance at Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ:

"I really believe that (Hillary) just always thought, ‘This is mine (congregation laughter, hoots). I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white. And this is mine. And I jus’ gotta get up and step into the plate.’ And then out of nowhere came, ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama.’ And she said, ‘Oh, damn! Where did you come from? (crowd goes nuts, Pfleger screaming). I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealing my show. (sobs!)’ She wasn’t the only one crying! There was a whole lotta white people crying!"

On a roll, Pfleger mustered up his best Wright imitation and let loose on the entire country, proclaiming: "America is the greatest sin against God."

Pfleger has also embraced hate-crime hoax engineer Al Sharpton. Outraged Catholics across the country called on the archdiocese of Chicago to remove Pfleger. In response, Cardinal George meekly suspended Pfleger for two weeks over his "partisan" remarks — and has now honored him for his "service" to "racial justice."

The sermon in 1 Corinthians 15:33 teaches us that bad company corrupts good character. Have they forgotten?

In an e-mail exchange with Pfleger this week, he indignantly accused me of not telling the "truth." When I quoted his own toxic words back to him, he accused me of being "mean-spirited." ["Shut up!", he explained…]

This rogue Catholic priest has been arrested for vandalizing billboards in his community; threatened to "snuff out" a gun shop owner (Pfleger claims he didn’t mean to imply he would kill the businessman, just expose his private home address); [?!?] and flouted church rules limiting tenure. When the archdiocese attempted to enforce its two-term limit on Pfleger, he taunted them to "have the balls to fire" him. They didn’t — and Pfleger continues to serve indefinitely. [Sounds like a serious leadership problem.]

Mimicking Planned Parenthood and the death lobby, the Chicago archdiocese [Ouch!] defended late-term-abortion supporter Obama as "pro-choice" rather than "pro-abortion" this week [The Archdiocese?  An office of the Archdiocese?] — and did nothing in 2003 when Pfleger put radical-leftist actor Harry Belafonte on the St. Sabina pulpit to rail against former President George W. Bush’s pro-life policies.

Cardinal George did think it worthy of his time to condemn the "hate literature" of Illinois Catholic columnist Tom Roeser, who raised his voice against the church’s pedophilia scandal and criticized the willingness of Catholic Church leaders to sign on to the Obamacare sellout for the sake of "social justice."

For years, the far-left Catholic Campaign for Human Development forked over funding to Chicago-based, Saul Alinsky-trained outfits that employed then-community organizer Obama. [Ouch!] And the Chicago archdiocese has also lobbied aggressively alongside open-borders groups to undermine immigration enforcement, to halt homeland security raids against employers breaking immigration laws and to demand mass amnesty.

As if the massive global sex-abuse scandal that cost at least $3 billion in litigation and inflicted immeasurable pain and grief on Catholic molestation victims hasn’t done enough damage to its credibility, the Pfleger-ization of the Catholic Church goes on unabated. And the likes of Cardinal George are doing nothing to stop it.

This is not the Catholic Church I was raised in. It has left me.  [Problem: She knows better than to conflate what is going on in Chicago, and admittedly other places, with "the Catholic Church".]


Damning, to be sure.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. TJerome says:

    So the “spirit” of Vatican II lives on in Chicago. For all the good Cardinal George has done, this decision is totally inexplicable other than it’s a super-pander. By the way, the Cardinal is absolutley nuts if he takes off after orthodox, believing Catholics like Tom Roeser. I’ve read Tom over the years and if his candid and frank comments constitute “hate literature” what on God’s earth are Father Pfleger’s comments and writings then called : Super off the chart hate literature. Sorry the Archdiocese has a black eye on this one and won’t get another dime from me as long as this regime controls the Archdiocese.

  2. ikseret says:

    1. In one of his lectures (found at Keep the Faith’s website), Msgr. William B. Smith (RIP+) a straight-shooting moralist and priest of the Archdiocese of New York noted that priests (and bishops) are in some sense bachelors, and as confirmed bachelors they want to be liked.
    It is very natural to not want to be “Fr. No” and to always have to condemn the evil. Unfortunately, with the post-Vatican II’s false spirit running wild even in priestly training, the cultic and moral reforming prophet aspects of the priesthood have been downplayed for the feel good guru and social activist model. Even our bishops are infected (or perhaps indoctrinated) with it.
    But, a true father says “no” to his children. Sometimes he has to discipline. He wants to be loved by his children, but is more focused on loving them and so is willing to be unpopular to keep them safe from harm.

    2. My other point is, what’s the big deal with giving Fr. Pfleger an award? George already allows his to have faculties and exercise ministry unimpeded. Meanwhile, he has takes part in Protestant worship and invites Protestants to preach at his parish.
    If George does not care about disciplining Pfleger for matters touching the worship and doctrine directly, why should he care about the award.

    The Eucharist is greater than any reward! So, if Pfleger’s being allowed to offer Mass is not a scandal, why is his receiving a meanignless award a scandal?

  3. Hieronymus says:

    I hate to say it, Father, but these things need to be said.

    The members of the hierarchy have spent the last 40 years refusing to take personal responsibility for anything. We have heard plenty of apologies — for the crusades, “meanness” against jews and others, sexual abuse, etc — but none of them are real apologies. They always collectivize the guilt and place it upon “The Church”, offering no personal statement of personal wrongdoing. “I apologize, and step down because I failed in my duty to uphold the faith given me by Christ.” Instead we get effusions of false humility, superficial apologies which demonize the Church at large (most often the Church of the bad old days run by closed-minded and intolerant bigots), but make the speaker appear to be somehow above it all. Can we blame the press for picking up on the fact that the only guilt in the Church today is collective guilt?

    The hierarchy needs to realize that the generalizing of the guilt will only stop when they begin to assign (or admit) personal guilt.

  4. B Knotts says:

    The charge of racism is today our “scarlet letter.”

    Calling someone a racist can be, and is regularly, used to intimidate people into action, silence and/or compliance.

    I’m afraid this will continue until we collectively decide that enough is enough, and baseless charges of racism will be responded to forcefully.

    Racial politics certainly don’t belong in the Church, and this priest should long ago have been sent to administer a library or something.

  5. Rellis says:

    Michelle Malkin is a hateful, anti-Latino, anti-Catholic person. Like Stalin allying with the West, we merely have a common opponent RIGHT NOW. When this common opponent (Pfleger) is no longer the topic of the day, she will go back to being a hateful, anti-Catholic bigot.

    Any good, faithful, orthodox, and traditional Catholic should reject her as an ally. She is one of the opponents of the Church.

  6. lofstrr says:

    But this does illustrate why scandal is scandal, some people are loosing their faith. No, she shouldn’t conflate the Church’s teachings with the worst of what is going on in Chicago but neither should Catholics be making that distinction necessary.

  7. B Knotts says:

    Rellis, you have illustrated my point.

  8. Steve K. says:

    Knotts – well said.

    On the last thread some of us were accused of intemperance in criticism of Cardinal George, but it appears the more one lifts up the rock and looks under it, the uglier the diocese of Chicago looks. Another bishop with no control over his diocese and no will to discipline rogue clergy and laity, what a surprise. It’s almost becoming a punch line. Pray for our bishops.

  9. Steve K. says:

    On a good note and OT: Bart Stupak is resigning.

  10. TonyC says:

    I am inclined to cut Malkin some slack because the social justice doctrine of the Catholic Church is known to most Catholics from what they are told by the Bishops and pastors. When they(Bishops and pastors) twist and parse the official doctrine to fit their own beliefs(as they do with the liturgy) and agendas and then spew it back to us in the pulpit, then what are we to really know about true social justice.

  11. “Taking scandal”: when someone sins because of the sins of others.

    Unfortunately, the politicization of American Protestantism is long-standing and is much encouraged by the culture and government. Depending on denomination, either the Wealth of Nations or Das Kapital is raised to the status of a fifth Gospel. Enlightenment Rationalism — re-defining Revelation based on human reason — is nearly universal.

    I can see why American Eastern-Rite Christians usually strive mightily to not Americanize.

    Deep inside all of us Western Catholics there is a tiny little Protestant crying to get out. Our job is to hunt it down and kill it.

    Well, OK, convert it. This is a supremely difficult process, as I know from experience.

  12. Dan says:

    I would like to make a few comments:

    1) Perhaps some would rather ignore it, or cast it as “identity politics”, but Fr. Pfleger actually has done much good work in terms of “racial justice” in that community. For that work alone, he would deserve this award. That being said, I agree that this award is imprudent at best. Fr. Pfleger is a publicity-hound and a bit narcissistic, IMO.

    2) As has been noted several times on this blog and in other places, the sort of “liberal”, “heterodox” Catholic is aging. That generation is passing away. But it has not passed yet in Chicago. The Cardinal is well aware of this.

    3) This is why he has, to the extent possible, worked to reform the seminary system in Chicago. A notable addition, as has been previously mentioned here, is the Liturgical Institute on the grounds of Mundelein Seminary. I can guarantee that this is having an effect on the formation of seminarians.

    4) You work with what you have. If you live in the Archdiocese of Chicago and you disagree with things you see happening, the solution is to get more involved, not less. If you decide to take your ball and go home, it makes the Cardinal’s job that much harder. Step up! Get involved! Your future priests and ordinaries will appreciate it more than you know.

  13. kap says:

    Has stated it correctly…and to add more to this scandal –

    “Delivering a homily at a prayer service and racial justice awards ceremony honoring controversial priest Fr. Michael Pfleger, Cardinal Francis George said that he is a good pastor who “acts out of love.” The cardinal denounced social violence including abortion, which he called an obvious “racial justice issue.””

    We need to pray that ALL priests know and accept that they are FATHERS! And that they OBEY what Our Lord wants of them. Pray for ALL priests!

  14. AWDCC says:

    This is a problem we see across the county. The Archbishop of Washington (Archbishop Wuerl) has honored pro-abortionists Cokie and Steve Roberts at the annual Support Our Aging Religous (SOAR) dinner. He also honored John Sweeney (AFL-CIO) at a reception at Georgetown University. However, neither one of those made the Catholic Standard. They were kept hush-hush but many of us found out about it via other means.

    The Archdiocese also honored the head of the CCHD earlier this year, bestowing on him an award for all of his work.

    When will this end?

  15. MikeJ9919 says:

    With respect, Father Z, while the problems in Chicago (and Los Angeles, but the Holy Father has seen fit to take the first step in correcting that this week) may be more extreme than the Church as a whole, it is still a diocese of the Church, headed by a successor of the Apostles. While I think people understand that not every representative’s actions speak to the larger organization, Cardinal George is a Prince of the Church and President of the USCCB. Short of the Papal Nuncio or the Holy Father himself, who else would represent the Church in the United States?

  16. Elly says:

    Dan, what good has Father Pfleger done? I’ve only read about the bad but I would be curious is you could provide any links to his good actions.


  17. Marcin says:

    The charge of racism is today our “scarlet letter.”
    Calling someone a racist can be, and is regularly, used to intimidate people into action, silence and/or compliance.

    It has always worked like a charm. Back then they cried: If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend!

  18. Martial Artist says:

    Intending no offense to those who are fans, whether of Beck, Malkin, or both, but what other sort of mistake than a rookie one would you expect from these intellectual rookies? IMHO, both of the named commentators frequently fall into the category of those who arrive at a fair approximation of the truth by way of a logically flawed or logically insufficient argument.

    They all too frequently remind me of the progressives who seem to arrive at their inescapable conclusions by determining whether their answer “feels correct,” rather than by being led to the conclusion from stated premises and adduced facts.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  19. Steve K. says:

    I am definitely no far of Malkin, Beck, et al Keith, but do you honestly doubt what’s been reported here? This isn’t some philosophically complex issue not grasped by the likes of Malkin. It’s straightforward and it’s a scandal. I don’t care a whit about the messenger.

  20. Dave N. says:

    Agree with Steve K. Even broken clocks are right twice a day.

  21. cwillia1 says:

    The best face you can put on this is that Cardinal George has decided to risk scandalizing the faithful because he deems it imprudent to alienate powerful constituencies in the institutional church in Chicago. I suppose it is possible to praise a man like Fr. Pfleger for the good he does in the course of being a pastor and whatever good intentions lie behind his political activities and simultaneously pass over his disobedience, unsavory political associations and intemperate statements. I suppose it is possible to “damn” with the right kind of faint praise.

  22. Henry Edwards says:

    Rellis: Michelle Malkin is a hateful, anti-Latino, anti-Catholic person.

    I’m not sure what your complaint is. Has Ms. Malkin also received an award from the Church? (Of course, there are ample examples illustrating that the attributes you allege would not by themselves preclude such an award.)

  23. ikseret says:

    With all due respect, the majority of bishops of this country are dillusional. Either by temperment or in doctrination they are overly optimistic. Yet, Christ told them to be prudent as serpents.

    I imagine George did this in good faith to try to speak out against against racism, but also teach that abortion is a great evil. I think that after the betrayal by certain nuns recently, there is also an effort to “make nice” with Obama indirectly through his croonies.

    Anyone with an ounce of prudence would see neither of these things is realistic.
    The Pfleger crowd does not care one bit about abortion, because Bernadin types have told them its ok to support abortionist. And the Pfleger crowd are racists who love Obama (because of the color of his skin) more than Jesus Christ. [I say this based on their actions and words.]

    Obama is getting a good laugh at Pfleger’s getting the award. George made himself and the Church look life fools. And the Church’s advice and authority has not gone up one bit in Obama’s eyes while he plots to appoint another radical leftist abortionist to the court.

  24. Henry Belton says:

    The politically conservative are not necessarily friends of the Church. And often even conservative (politically) Catholics are not traditional Catholics.

    MM’s last sentence is disturbing.

  25. JonM says:

    I wonder if the post Vatican II Church is the time of greatest strife, or if we have not yet reached the 18th century madness. Hmm…Actually clearly we ahve surpassed the Josephism crypto-Lutheran stuff long ago.

    Couple points:

    1) It is insane to honor Father Pfleger because his Masses are not even remotely within the rubrics, his abuse of the Liturgy of the Eucharist is totally scandalous, and he is well-known for lacking a Catholic identity (i.e., that the Catholic Church is the Church, not a ‘faith path’)

    2) Ms. Malkin is being selective in her reporting. As others have pointed out, often the politically conservative are not our friends when it comes down to the faith; they put political adventures way ahead of the directives of the Pope and teachings of the Church. In any event, I hope she did not imply that she left the Church over pastoral bungling!

    3) Father Pfleger actually has done good and can be a model for how a Pastor or Bishop is to act. Father Pfleger is known for condemning rap stars and (certain kinds of) indecent advertisements. If this spirit were directed in matters more central to the faith (ehem, Humane Vitae) imagine the change that could occur.

  26. Hidden One says:

    “The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.”
    St. Peter of Alcantara

  27. muckemdanno says:

    Typical mindless vitriol from Michelle Malkin. She is concerned about Pfleger, not because he is un-Catholic, but because he favors a political party that she does not.

  28. bookworm says:

    If I remember correctly, Fr. Pfleger wasn’t the only cleric honored by the Racial Justice office this year… they also recognized Auxiliary Bishop Perry, who is himself African American, and VERY pro-life. Of course that may have been an attempt to placate more orthodox/conservative Catholics. Still one would think Bp. Perry is far more deserving of this kind of honor. Too bad Malkin didn’t write about HIM instead.

Comments are closed.