Pfleger Pfollies: developments!

One of Julius Caesar’s principles of warfare was that you do well to leave your enemy an honorable escape route unless you plan to crush or fight to the death.

In the Chicago Tribune we find this, with my emphases and comments:

Cardinal restores Pfleger to St. Sabina

Ending a standoff between Chicago’s Roman Catholic archbishop and one of Chicago’s most famous Catholic priests, Cardinal Francis George lifted the suspension of the Rev. Michael Pfleger today and said he would visit St. Sabina Catholic Church in the near future.

Both men also released statements pledging to work together and prepare a plan, by the end of the year, for a transition at St. Sabina Catholic Church[A transition period.  This is the honorable escape route.]

“If my remarks in a radio interview seemed to be a threat to leave the priesthood, I am sorry,” Pfleger said in his statement. [He simply had to say that publicly.  Good.] “That was not my intention. I am committed to the priesthood and the Catholic Church.”

Pfleger said he would prepare a transition plan for the cardinal by Dec. 1.

“In our conversations, Cardinal George and I recognized that the Church has been hurt, and this concerns us both,” Pfleger said. “For the people of St. Sabina and the Church as a whole, I will do all in my power to foster healing for all. We trust in the healing power of God.”

George said he approved Pfleger’s statement as a “genuine step toward healing the hurt and clarifying the confusion.”

“Many people have been personally affected by these events, including the people of St. Sabina Parish, and I hope that our statements now will bring the peace necessary to strengthen the mission of the Church,” George said.

Pfleger will celebrate mass at St. Sabina on Sunday, which is also his 62nd birthday.

My understanding is that Fr. Pfleger has never, since the day he was ordained, been assigned anywhere other than St. Sabina parish.

All in all, I think we have to say that this is a step in the right direction for Fr. Pfleger and the parish.

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  1. ghlad says:

    I hope his heart is (or has been) moved by our prayers towards repentance, humility and service towards the flock he has been entrusted with. Prayer is such a miracle.

  2. Glen M says:

    Perhaps Fr. Pfleger reassessed his retirement plan outside of the Church.

  3. everett says:

    Great news. This is a far more true meaning of “pastoral” than some of that wishy-washy stuff that means letting people do whatever they want.

  4. teaguytom says:

    There needs to be teeth behind this agreement. Cardinal George is going to need to bang the crosier down and make sure Fr Pfleger is keeping his word. No more deals or further agreements after Dec 1. Its not a compromise between the House and Senate.

  5. I’m glad to see Cardinal George being gracious, and I’m glad to see Fr. Pfleger being sensible.

  6. I have no idea what exactly went on behind the scenes.
    But this is just crazy.
    Cardinal George actually put his foot down; Fr. Pfleger, for whatever he has said or done, seems
    “unscathed”…what has exactly happened here?
    A dissident, loudmouthed, “in your face” priest is reinstated.
    That’s something to rejoice about?
    The jury is out on this one.

  7. acroat says:

    Just pray it not a transition to a school…

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    Except everett,
    It sounds like he’s doing exactly what he wants.

    This is reason #1 why a priest should never be allowed to stay in the same parish for more than about 10 years. All kinds of funny things can happen. He starts to think he owns the place.

  9. Elizabeth D says:

    Deo Gratias! I am really grateful for this news. Fr Pfleger and Cardinal George must be communicating well and with charity with one another.

  10. Joan A. says:

    “Who will rid me of this troublesome priest?”

  11. Nan says:

    Didn’t his parish threaten to leave the Church if he was removed? That in itself would be a good reason for him to create a transition plan. A parish in my area underwent sudden change and much of the English-speaking parish left; only the Spanish speakers remained. The parishioners formerly from that parish rent space elsewhere for their reenactments or whatever it is that people do when there’s no priest and they don’t care. Another parish had difficulties when asked to exclude some anomalous ethnic additions to Mass. If temporarily restoring Father Pfleger to St. Sabina is a greater benefit to the Church, I’m all for it, especially since he publicly stated that his statements were misconstrued; that was an act of humility in obedience to his Bishop.

  12. Hieronymus says:

    Lest we lose scope as to what exactly this means…we do remember that the “ultimatum” that this inflammatory, race-bating priest was given was to take over as president of a Catholic high school, right?

    The man continues to cause a national scandal for the Catholic Church by presenting his radical opinions as Catholic opinions. He should have been removed long, long ago. His willingness to accept reassignment to head a Catholic high school does nothing to correct his teaching, it just means he now gets to spout his rhetoric to a whole generation of young people who will grow up and likely never realize they were not offered the Truth at their Catholic school.

    Unless there comes a very public recantation of error, this is no victory for our side. A heterodox priest is being reinstated and placed over a Catholic high school. Cause for celebration? I think not.

  13. Will D. says:

    My understanding is that Fr. Pfleger has never, since the day he was ordained, been assigned anywhere other than St. Sabina parish.

    It rings true. Fr. Pfleger has been at that parish for a very, very long time in any case. And it is probably one of the roots of the problem, if the Reverend Father had been rotated to some other parish and a new pastor (or pastors) named to St. Sabina, the cult of personality would not have developed to the degree that it has. I devoutly pray that the Cardinal will reassign Fr. Pfleger and appoint a more orthodox pastor to St. Sabina’s parish for the good of all involved.

  14. GordonB says:

    Just for the sake of conversation, wasn’t St. John Vianney stationed at the same parish for a very long time? Not comparing Pflegler to Vianney in terms of sanctity, etc…, but only as much as it relates to the idea of moving priests…

  15. Robert of Rome says:

    I am in full agreement with the above comments of Nazareth Priest.

  16. Brooklyn says:

    I also agree with Nazareth Priest When Fr. Pfleger lists “Masses” on his website as opposed to “worship services” or whatever term he uses, when he does a mea culpa in regard to supporting the ordination of women, when he stops associating with people llike Jeremiah Wright and Farrakhan, etc., then I’ll start believing him. Otherwise I consider him a rogue priest who should be sent to the top of a mountain so he can reflect on what he believes and the damage he has done.

  17. papaefidelis says:

    Weeks ago, I said that NOTHING would come of this and Pfleger would still be at St. Sabina’s in the end. And guess what? Nothing came of this and Pfleger is still at St. Sabina’s. I live (unfortunately) in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Cardinal George is completely lacking in anything that even distantly resembles a spine. He, like Rigali of Philadelphia, are politicians, not defenders of the faith. The liturgical abuses aberrated in my parish are sickening, yet they continue week after week. Letters to the Cardinal about them are not just ignored but not even acknowledged. George will retire soon and I pray that we get an archbishop here who will truly be an “enforcer.”

  18. MQ says:

    The Church and it’s Bishops should not capitulate.

  19. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I am not a canon lawyer, but I also wonder if the Cardinal did not think twice about the way he inflicted suspension. There are certain crimes which merit immediate suspension. Other delicts must be followed by warning the priest, then giving him a chance to change his ways, before suspension is inflicted.

    Pfleger may or may not have had a talk with the Cardinal in which he sought to placate the Cardinal, but also warned that he would seek administrative recourse for the inflicting of suspension without canonical due process. This gives both men the chance to show good will and save face at the same time. But now, there is no doubt that Pfleger has been properly warned to mend his ways by his superior. I think Pfleger has learned a lesson.

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    Just being ordained does not make you St. John Vianney. In fact, most ordained men are rather ordinary in just about every way except for their ordination.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    And his parish has quieted down and made recanting noises because he’s still in the parish. My bet is that when/if the subject ever comes up again, the resistance to moving him will be even stiffer because after all, they “won” this time and won’t understand why it won’t work again. And they “won” by making noise to the media, so expect it to stink to high heavens.

  22. RichardT says:

    Two conflicting things here, I think.

    1) If this makes it look like a priest can win by noisily, publicly standing up to his bishop, then it’s going to encourage others to do the same.

    2) But if they really do manage the transition (early retirement?) fairly quickly without lots of people leaving the Church, then it’s a good thing.

    Whether this is a good manouvre or a capitulation by the Bishop will be clear by the end of the year. But if this encourages priests to publicly defy the Church, this has implications far beyond Chicago.

  23. Charivari Rob says:

    Working something out? Sounds great.

    Waiting until Dec 1 for Father P. To submit a plan? Way too long. He’ll get something in, cardinal will reply, take time to modify… They might still be at it at Pentecost!

    6 months should be enough time to agree on a plan and implement by first Sunday of Advent.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    Agree, Richard T,

    Although I’m not sure it’s that dramatic. The cat is already out of the bag for many parishes and clergy. They are already very conscious of the fact that they will not be corrected and brought into line if they misbehave.

    The only reason Fr. Pfleger hit the radar in Chicago was that he got caught up in a presidential election. If that hadn’t happened, I’m very sure we wouldn’t be having this conversation, no matter what Fr. Pfleger might have been doing in Chicago. No matter what, I’m serious. He’s the object of a personality cult; so who knows what goes on.

    Most bishops manage from catastrophe to catastrophe and don’t really manage the spiritual atmospheres of their dioceses. It’s a huge job and it’s far too easy to get wrapped up in the usual round of meetings and activities, many of which as we can see, are a waste of time and make the bishop nearly invisible to the people. And the diocese of Chicago is huge and has a long & nasty history of corruption and trouble. [I’m not making excuses for Cardinal George. Not at all. Just saying that if a bishop wants to really improve things in his diocese, he can’t take the easy ways out, which are the expected ways out.]

  25. catholicmidwest says:

    Richard T,
    I’m sure that’s the plan on both sides, even if they don’t have the same motivation for delaying. But we’re heading for another presidential election, so I doubt they’ll get away with it. Fr. Pfleger has become a “celebrity.”

  26. Ezra says:

    Though Bishop Williamson’s writings are for the most part ridiculous and offensive, his unintentionally hilarious and much-circulated rant about The Sound of Music does make one on-target observation: for Hollywood it sometimes seems that all sin is Nazi sin.

    In the contemporary Church in the West, it sometimes seems that all actionable dissent is traditionalist “dissent”. One can have animals in the sanctuary, mutilate the Mass texts, spray Holy Water from Super Soakers, use glass chalices and raisin loaf bread, have readers and servers in high heels and lipstick, give communion to homosexual men dressed as female religious… but unless one resolves to say the Extraordinary Form exclusively, or to remind parishioners of the Church’s teaching on extra ecclesiam nulla salus and the dangers of adhering to non-Catholic religions, one need have little worry of episcopal intervention. Except for in a handful of excellent dioceses, only the most stubborn and determined of liberal maniacs will manage to elicit a peep from their local ordinary, and that usually resulting in an agreement which gives the dissenter the ability to buy extra time and persist in their practices until the next round of negotiations.

    All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I agree with Nazareth Priest.

  27. hungry_papist says:

    It seems as if human punishment, which is to protect the innocent, instruct the guilty, and promote recompence/pennance rather than exact pain from the guilty party (although lessons are often painful) has worked well here. While Pfleger’s statement might seem to be “letting him off easy” I would imagine that admitting that he was wrong was a tough pill to swallow from a prideful priest. It also seems that for the first time, he is learning the meaning of true obedience and docility—and, by Cardinal George’s example, mercy. In my ignorant opinion, I think Cardinal George handled the situation very well. The community has probably learned the same lesson. Mercy is orthodox, as long as it’s presented in Truth (which, IMO Cardinal George did).

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