Chicago: The Pfleger Follies continue!

Giving an ultimatum in public to a Cardinal Archbishop when you are a priest of the diocese entrusted to that that Cardinal Archbishop, would, I believe, be considered by most priests to be at the level of daft.  One might even consider the ultimating priest to be a crackit gaberlunzie.

Cardinals are generally viewed as weak friends but powerful enemies.

This is from the Chicago Tribune with my emphases and comments:

Pfleger says he will begin to preach at other churches if his suspension isn’t ended

Outspoken priest sets this weekend as deadline

The Rev. Michael Pfleger said Tuesday in a meeting with parishioners that if he is not reinstated as pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church by this weekend, he will begin to preach at other churches. [Other Catholic churches?  I doubt it.  Remember that Fr. Pfleger had his faculties removed, which I assume includes his faculty to preach.  A pastor of a Catholic parish who let him preach under these circumstances would not incur the favor of the local ordinary.] In his first in-depth public remarks about his suspension by Cardinal Francis George, Pfleger told a group of about 150 people that he has received numerous offers to preach from churches throughout the city and the country and needs to get back to preaching.

He did not specify at what churches he might speak or their denominations.  [And if he goes to preach at a non-Catholic church, he will be demonstrating that what Card. George concluded was correct: Fr. Pfleger had already left the Catholic Church if he could talk the way he had been talking.]

Still, Pfleger insisted that the only way he will leave St. Sabina is if he is thrown out or if he believes God wants him to go.

“This has been very painful,” Pfleger said, choking back tears. [I sincerely believe that it has been.]

George is in the process of planning a meeting with Pfleger but has not set a time yet, said Colleen Dolan, communications director for the Chicago Archdiocese.

On April 27, George sent a letter to Pfleger suspending him from his duties and saying the priest’s recent remarks in the news media that he would leave the Catholic Church if he were removed from St. Sabina had “short-circuited” efforts that have been under way for weeks to reach an agreement on his transition to a new post.

The cardinal named the Rev. Thulani Magwaza, the associate pastor at St. Sabina, as administrator during the suspension and the Rev. Andrew Smith, a priest at St. Ailbe’s Parish, as his assistant.

Throughout his tenure, Pfleger’s political activism and outspokenness have often placed him at odds with cardinals, even before George. But the cardinal’s suggestion in March to name Pfleger president of Leo Catholic High School quickly escalated into a standoff that pitted his African-American congregation and other South Side supporters against the archdiocese.

On Tuesday, Pfleger told the parishioners that although he was still their pastor, [Perhaps in an informal sense.] he said it was too painful for him to continue attending services.

Pfleger spent about 90 minutes talking to the group and answering questions about his suspension and the future of the church.

He insisted that George never ordered him to become president of nearby Leo High School. Pfleger also said he did not disobey the cardinal by saying he was not qualified for such an assignment.

Pfleger added that the media received the letter from George suspending him before he did and that he never threatened to leave the Catholic Church if he were removed.

In fact, Pfleger told radio show hosts Tavis Smiley and Cornel West in April that he would look outside the Catholic Church if offered no other choice but to work at the Catholic high school.

While he has consulted with lawyers who told him that George had no legal right to suspend him, he had no intention of suing the Catholic Church, Pfleger said.  [What a guy.]

But Pfleger said one of his lawyers would send a letter to George saying he violated canonical law by suspending him.  [Fr. Pfleger can always appeal to the Congregation for Clergy in Rome.]

Dolan said all of the protections of being a sitting pastor are over for Pfleger because his term at St. Sabina has expired.

Dolan said that while she doesn’t know if George and Pfleger have exchanged letters, they have not had a conversation since the suspension.

Tribune reporter Manya A. Brachear contributed.

What a sad situation.

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  1. priests wife says:

    I’ll be offering prayers for this priest…

    A great priest is a HUMBLE servant—causing scandal such as this shows so much pride

  2. JoAnna says:

    Fr. Pfleger, at your ordination you vowed obedience to your bishop… maybe you should start fulfilling those vows instead of thumbing your nose at them.

  3. meunke says:

    He will be in my daily Rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet.

    This priest’s narcissism borders on the masturbatory.

  4. Mdepie says:

    Fr. Pfleger has in the past allowed Jerimiah Wright ( remember, he of G-D America fame) preach, and has staunchly praised and advocated for the pro-abortion President Obama. In fact he has a long history of inviting pro-abortion advocates to speak at his Parish. Including having Al Sharpton give the Homily at his church. In response to this , he was to be made president of a Catholic High School. Lets parse this for a moment..

    The last I heard Vatican II decribed abortion as ” an unspeakable crime”, it would seem to follow that advocating the election of a President who supports legal protection and tax payer support for an ” unspeakable crime” would not lead your Archbishop to appoint you President of a school. Evidently this is not the case. I seem to be the only one who finds this disturbing. Presumably the Bishops are still “pro-life” at least rhetorically, but I can not understand the logic here. In what way does this action promote the prolife cause ? or the cause of a rational Catholicism ? It seems that Fr Pfleger should have been suspended ages ago, and not been offered anything but some time for reflection and pennance. A remote monastery would seem to be a good choice. Perhaps the Cistercians have a spare room ..

    In any case What I garner from all of this is that you can promote the election of those who will advocate for the “Culture of Death” as Blessed John Paul II put it, even having speakers defend it from the pulpit and no problem, Your Archbishop may make you school president, but if you disobey an assignment then watch out…. We are in very deep trouble, much deeper than is realized when this is the case

  5. digdigby says:

    Hey meunke, my friend, pray for people
    you know who aren’t in the ‘news’
    ask the Baptist cleaning woman
    who mops the hall
    if she has someone who needs praying for
    ask the young gal who makes your coffee
    every morning – “Do you have
    anyone I can pray for?”
    suddenly her eyes will tear up…
    “My dad…he just
    had a biopsy. … thank you, thank you…”
    Leave Father Pfleger to all the many graces
    that have been bestowed upon him.

  6. mhinchi says:

    This has been an extraordinarily sad situation. On the one hand that is a vibrant African American parish in this town, a town that isn’t known for having a large percentage of black Catholics.

    On the other hand, I personally feel that Fr. Pfleger should have worked to ensure a smooth transition to a new pastor years ago. Like him or not, his ascent would be seen as a seal of approval and that parish would not have missed a beat.

    What’s happening now between the Cardinal and Fr Pfleger is just unfortunate, although sadly unavoidable.

  7. jfm says:

    Father Pfleger is essentially a Protestant.
    He says he is going to preach at other churches.
    For most Protestant demoninations, the sermon is the central piece of the Sunday service.

    No offense meant to my Roman Catholic priest friends, but does any Roman Catholic go to a specific Mass to hear a specific priest preach?
    I think the central role of the Roman Catholic priest is the consecration, not the sermon.
    A good sermon is truly a bonus, but I’d be happy to hear 10 minutes of platitudes as long as my priest reverently consecrated the eucharist.

  8. Rich says:

    At this point, he would do much more harm for the universal Church if reinstated as pastor at St Sabina’s. If he sees he can get what he wants by strong-arming Cardinal George this way, there is no telling what he will try and get away with if reinstated. Adios, Fr. Pfleger. Auf wiedersehen. Tchau. Sainara.

  9. Glen M says:

    It brings me nothing but sadness to say this, but Rev. Pfleger has left the priesthood and entered the realm of preachers. As jfm pointed out, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not about the sermon. As you all must know, it isn’t usually a part of weekday Mass. This poor man lost his way awhile ago and now is too entrenched in the sin of pride to make the right decisions. Perhaps if his bishop corrected him twenty years ago this sad story would not be unfolding before us. Pray for this fallen away priest. Maybe the Enemy identified him as a threat early on and concentrated efforts on him.

  10. It’s very disheartening to watch a priest self-destruct.

    This is very serious for another reason: Pfleger’s threat to go preach at another church is an invitation for Catholics to leave the Catholic Church with him. It’s one thing to leave the faith yourself; it’s quite another to take others with you as he likely wood.

  11. Rob Cartusciello says:

    It is not my custom to quote Oliver Cromwell, but in this case, I will make an exception:

    You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

    – Oliver Cromwell, Address to the Rump Parliament, April 20, 1653

  12. mrose says:

    Diane makes a most important point. Among the several problems surrounding this “situation” is the personality cult around Fr. Pfleger at St. Sabina parish. It all seems to be much more about him than about Catholicity or about Christ. And, given the parish website and discussion from a close friend, I think it’s fair to say that at St. Sabina’s “services,” the most important part is considered to be the sermon rather than any sort of Consecration that may or may not go on (not even referring to whether his Masses are valid, but whether they even regularly offer Mass there, or just some form of a Communion Service – again, one cannot tell from the website).

    Suffice it to say, if he leaves, I fear it is unlikely he will go alone.

  13. Joan A. says:

    A parish that is whipped into an emotional frenzy by Fr. Phleger on a weekly basis.
    A parish that is politicized to an extreme leftist pole, where politics is the religion.
    South Side of Chicago.
    Race issues.
    A priest emotionally overwrought if not actually psychologically unstable.
    Cardinal George increasingly portrayed as a cold, authoritarian who doesn’t care about the little people…..

    My fear is we have the ingredients for an eruption of actual violence in the streets.

  14. Kerry says:

    Get back to preaching? He needs to get back, but it ain’t to “preaching”.

  15. Jack Hughes says:

    I feel very sorry for Fr Pfleger, he must value his Priesthood very little to treat it with such contempt.

  16. Stephen Matthew says:

    If I were the bishop in such a case, I would be sorely tempted to restore his ability to hear confessions, but continue restricting all his other ministries, and see just what happens. It just might be the corrective needed, but then what do I know? I am neither a bishop, nor do I play one on TV, nor did I even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

  17. I pray for this priest and those he leads down the road to perdition, if any. When I see situations like this, a comment made to me by my dearly departed spiritual director, Fr. Denis E. O’Brien, co-founder of American Life League, comes to mind. “Judas left many offspring.”

  18. makreitzer says:

    God forbid that Cardinal George should give in to Fr. Pfleger’s blackmail. But in view of the cardinal’s past actions with the priest, it’s not really surprising for him to think he can get away with it. The only tough actions Cardinal George has taken are against faithful Catholics like Rey Flores who tried to reform CCHD in the archdiocese. Let’s pray for the cardinal to develop a backbone that makes him say, “Zeal for your house consumes me!” Then pray he starts to show it. Booting Fr. Pfleger is a start. He makes Martin Luther look good.

  19. elm says:

    Does Holy Mother Church have a need for an African American parish? I hear it told that she is universal.

  20. Charivari Rob says:

    “No offense meant to my Roman Catholic priest friends, but does any Roman Catholic go to a specific Mass to hear a specific priest preach?


    (Assuming one has a choice…) If we as Catholics choose between Masses that are reverent, valid and licit (and yes, the Consecration is at the core of it) because of things like location and schedule – why wouldn’t we choose because of superior preaching?

  21. mattsteady says:

    I come to this story as a bit of an insider. I played bass a couple of times for the Gospel choir. When I would visit home, I would attend St. Sabina.

    To those who asked if they have Mass at St. Sabina –and understand it’s been a few years since I attended– they have a valid consecrecation, but scarcely anything else is. The service –and I believe that word is appropriate to discribe the Mass– doesn’t start with the Sign of the Cross, doesn’t include the penitential rite, and doesn’t include the Gloria. The readings are mumbled in such a manner that it would put the coldest, stiffest, White-est parish to shame –in stark contrast to the shouting and clapping which occurs everywhere else. The homily isn’t really a homily because it bears no resemblance to anything in the day’s readings, including the fact that the Scriptures he draws from are Protestant versions of the text. The creed is mumbled perfunctorily, much like the readings. The consecrecation does have Fr. Pfleger saying the right words at the right time, but all of the rest of the prayer is something of his own creation, not something that appears in any rubric. So that’s how “Mass” goes, at least as it went the last time I was there. I can’t imagine that things have improved.

    Now, someone also commented that his leaving would cause apostasy. While that might be true, the people who’ll go with him, more than likely, are non-Catholics who attend the service but haven’t converted –whether they receive the sacraments illicitly I can only speculate. The truth is that a sizable number of parishioners at St. Sabina are “members” of St. Sabina and St. Sabina alone. They don’t want to be part of the Catholic Church. They hold doctrines that are contrary to Church teachings, like support for abortion. Fr. Pfleger doesn’t tend to disuade them from those views. When it comes to preaching on one of those uniquely Catholic teachings, he favors the “mear Christianity” that C. S. Lewis reviled.

    All of this saddens me. There are some –usually people who just know Fr. Pfleger from news accounts– who want to see this man carted off without seeing the full picture of this man’s ministry. I was there back when the Archdiocese was ready to close the church and the school. Now, the church and school are solvent, coupled with so many other community services. He has championed the corpeal works of mercy to improve a blighted community. And, at first, he inculturated the Catholic faith into the African-American experience. That’s the reason I attended there. Evangelization of the Catholic faith has been sorely lacking in the Black community. Some theologians have called it the “lost harvest.” Evangelization efforts have been historically been few and far between. Some of this comes from the Church’s history as an immigrant church. Some of it comes from the baggage of anti-Catholicism spoon-fed to the Black community’s enslaved ancestors. But much of it comes from racism, a racism readily admitted to by bishops throughout the country. I thought that Fr. Pfleger could be that Apostle that those of us who’ve wanted a strong African-American presense in Holy Mother Church have ached for. Instead, we have someone who has sold out the majesty of the Catholic faith for the sake of pride.

    Ultimately, Fr. Pfleger –Father Mike, as I used to call him– is a tragic figure at a Shakesperean level. He could have done so much to embolden Catholicism by blessing it with the “blackness” that Pope Pius XII begged for. His own pride has derailed that. I pray that God calls someone else to continue the good work that Fr. Pfleger has advanced but also fixes the damage he’s done.

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