SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Priest with strong political ties suspended

Thursday, Apr 28, 2011

* Chicago Catholic priest Michael Pfleger has been an institution in state and local politics for decades, so his suspension by Cardinal George is news for this venue

Cardinal Francis George suspended Rev. Michael Pfleger from his ministry at St. Sabina Catholic Church and barred him from performing Catholic sacraments over public statements Pfleger made about a possible reassignment.

In a letter from George to Pfleger released to the media on Wednesday, the Cardinal said Pfleger’s public remarks that he would leave the Catholic Church rather than accept a position outside of St. Sabina led to his decision.

“If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish,” George wrote.

* The Cardinal released the letter (read it here) to the media before Pfleger got it “to avoid misrepresentation and manipulation on anyone’s part,” he wrote. That didn’t sit well at St. Sabina

Associate Minister Kimberly Lymore declined to comment on the letter’s contents but claimed media members received the letter before Father Pfleger did.

“That’s a lack of respect,” she said. “He was ambushed. He’s spent the last 36 years in this archdiocese, given his life to this community, to the church. To be treated like this is unfair.”

* Background

During the flap over his possible assignment to Leo, Pfleger appeared on the “Smiley & West” public radio program that he had been banned from speaking at events in the archdiocese and blamed pressure from conservative Catholics and the National Rifle Association for his most recent clash with George.

“I want to try to stay in the Catholic Church,” Pfleger said. “If they say ‘You either take this principalship of (Leo High) or pastorship there or leave,’ then I’ll have to look outside the church. I believe my calling is to be a pastor. I believe my calling is to be a voice for justice. I believe my calling is to preach the Gospel. In or out of the church, I’m going to continue to do that.”

In a later interview with the Tribune, Pfleger clarified that he feels called to preach and push for social justice in a Catholic context. He said he loves the Catholic Church and prefers to stay there, but he would not go to Leo full time.

“I’ve always said I could not do something that I don’t feel called or equipped to do,” he told the Tribune. “A full-time position at Leo is not something I’m equipped to do. I think Leo has made it clear they don’t see any need for me to come there. For both sides, it would be a lose-lose.”

* More background

Pfleger has gained national attention for his protests on everything from gun violence to drug paraphernalia to Jerry Springer’s television show, and he has often appeared with major civil rights leaders.

Pfleger, who is white and runs a largely black parish, also has made racial equality a large part of his mission. He often wears African-style robes during services, and a mural of a black Jesus is behind the altar. Both his adopted sons are black.

It has long appeared he has had a strained relationship with the Chicago Archdiocese, which opposed his decision to adopt children.

* Kimberly Lymore, the Associate Minister at the Faith Community of St. Sabina, read a statement to the media yesterday

On March 11, 2011, Fr. Pfleger met with Cardinal George where he was asked to take over as president of Leo High School.

On March 19, 2011, Fr. Pfleger sent a letter to Cardinal George saying that he was neither qualified nor experienced being president of a high school but that he was willing to help Leo High School in any way that he could

According to Lymore, there has been no further communication between Pfleger and George since that exchange, despite requests from the church’s cabinet and leadership team.

“[Pfleger] spent the last 36 years in this Archdiocese, given his life to this community to the church, and to be treated like this is unfair; to be given a letter and then he doesn’t even want to — the cardinal doesn’t want to discuss it with him — that’s not fair,” said Lymore.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - bored now - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 7:47 am:

    sounds like they are planning on closing that church. i can’t imagine anyone else being able to keep that congregation together and in the catholic fold. but the catholic church has been making budget-saving decisions for years. add this one to the pile…

  2. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 7:51 am:

    It’s nice to see both parties putting aside petty differences to do God’s work. Alas, as long as humans are involved, egos will interfere.

  3. - Bill - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 8:00 am:

    Good riddance Loudmouth. This was a long time coming.

  4. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 8:29 am:

    Pfleger built a good parish over the years, perhaps better than anyone else could. Maybe it will leave with him, who knows.

    But he was guilty of insubordination. Pfleger put himself ahead of his parish and his parish ahead of the Archdiocese. That’s not acceptable.

    Pfleger made everything about him, which is more than a little narcissistic to me. He didn’t leave the Cardinal with many options.

  5. - Fed up - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:12 am:

    Pfleger feels he is bigger than the church. He has already been allowed to stay at st sabina longer than the rules state a priest can stay at a parish. He was given the opportunity to stay in the community and help a struggling high school he chose not to. If pfleger wants to be a stor front precher I’m sure he will do well but if he wants to be a catholic priest he needs to realize the church is more than just him.

  6. - amalia - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:22 am:

    The Archdiocese has transferred/moved other “famous” priests with strong ties to congregations. Old St. Pat’s, St. Mary of the Woods in Edgebrooke, so this is not a new story. however, if the claims of those talking at St. Sabina’s are true, it’s how Cardinal George did it that is objectionable….passive agressive method of notice. also, he’s on his way out of town for the ceremony for the beatification in Rome, so he’s not around to answer. Yes, Father Pfleger has his big bad points. But the church and the work in the community are very good, a real anchor, and would be in no danger of closing with so many parishoners. unless, of course, Mayor Rahm’s new proposals will be taxing to the church. how long until they sell the Cardinal’s mansion?

  7. - titan - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:53 am:

    A poorly handled matter (on both sides to some extent), but Pfleger seems to have forgotten that he is in a rigidly “top down” organization and he has already been given exceptional treatment to exempt him from normal rules. I think he finally pushed things too far.

  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 9:58 am:

    @amalia -

    I would find it more troubling if the claims were true that this move was motivated by his efforts to make the streets of his parish safe from violence.

    Hundreds gunned down in Chicago each year apparently don’t move the Cardinal, but G-d forbid a gay couple try to adopt a parentless child or provide a home for a child whose been abused or neglected.

  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:08 am:

    As secular figures, I don’t think either Pfleger or George have brought a lot to the party. If they didn’t have collars, no one would give them the time of day.

    I remember being absolutely shocked by the “fighting young priest’s” hateful and misogynistic attack from the pulpit on a Sunday morning on Hillary Clinton. That certainly had nothing to do with fighting for “justice” or however he likes to portray himself. It was just mean and nasty.

  10. - Cincinnatus - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:18 am:


    For some reason your comment,

    “Hundreds gunned down in Chicago each year apparently don’t move the Cardinal…”

    struck an image in my mind ala Monty Python (Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition). Roving bands of ninja priests fighting for justice like superheros.

  11. - John Bambenek - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:23 am:


    I’m not sure what church you’ve been observing, but the Catholic Church all but lobbies for the repeal of the Second Amendment. You can read some of the Catholic Bishops statements from here.

    I’m quite sure Cardinal George is not a member of the NRA and certainly not going to be their errand boy despite the claims of others.

  12. - amalia - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:29 am:

    @YDD one never knows what moves the Cardinal. the institution of the church in this form is anti LGBT, anti woman power (except the power of birth), and changing on the position on abortion. church scholars of old did not hold the same position as is held now, the life begins at conception bit which came in vogue in the late 1800s. all institutions should help anyone help a child, fight violence, and have great concern for the health of all people, including women. there can be disagreement about Father Pfleger but many can agree that the institution of the church needs lots of work. they should worry more about priests who hurt children!

  13. - Keen observer - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:56 am:

    Religion ain’t bean bags.

  14. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 10:59 am:

    @Bambenek -

    “All but lobbies”?

    You know that the Catholic Conference of Illinois has actual lobbyists, right?

    When you “all but lobby” for changes to a law, what are you actually doing?

    Are Catholic priests urging their parishioners to call their lawmakers and tell them to vote against conceal carry?

    Are they telling parishioners that it is a sin to vote for pro-gun legislators?

    Are they refusing communion to lawmakers that are NRA-endorsed?

    Because these are some of the “non-lobbying” activities the Church has engaged in in the past when it cares about an issue.

    When you “all but lobby” for changes in gun control laws but you ACTUALLY lobby for public funding for parochial schools and the right to discriminate against gay Americans, its pretty clear what your actual priorities are.

  15. - Esquire - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 11:18 am:

    I am confused by Amalia’s comments on various positions of the institutional church.

    The Cardinal may reinforce those traditional teachings, but, as an individual, he does not set the standards. The pro-life position of the church and opposition to abortion did undergo some modification during the late nineteenth century, but this should not be a surprise. The medical and scientific communities made advances that improved the understanding of human biology and prenatal life in utero.

    Reverend Michael Pfleger is a controversial figure who should have been called on the carpet long ago. Cardinal Bernadin neglected to do it. To his credit, Cardinal George has addressed the issue in the form of progressive discipline. Pfleger is suspended today because he failed to heed repeated warnings that were issued previously.

  16. - Way Way Down Here - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 11:47 am:

    Command Hierarchy - best not to forget it.

  17. - 42nd Ward - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 12:50 pm:

    Pfleger should go to the Anglicans. He will fit right in. They like social activists, and share most Catholic doctrines. Or the Presbyterians - they virtually are social activists.

  18. - Not It - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 1:05 pm:

    I have been following this guy ever since the Obama campaign. This guy isn’t a priest, he is an activist who uses his priestly cover to make news. I have no problems with activists doing crazy things to get attention; I do have a problem with activists using the Holy Church to do it though.

  19. - cermak_rd - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 1:43 pm:

    Goodbye St. Sabina Catholic Church, hello St. Sabina’s Community of Faith. I think the good Cardinal will discover it was easier when he could occasionally make the good father heal to some extent.

    Seriously, the Independent Catholic Church as well as the Old Roman Catholic church could both use some charismatic priests that don’t want to be Bishops.

  20. - John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 1:58 pm:

    >>>Are they telling parishioners that it is a sin to vote for pro-gun legislators?

    Pfleger was telling folks to kill legislators that did not vote for gun control.

  21. - John Bambenek - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 2:46 pm:


    I said “all but lobbies for the repeal of the Second Amendment”, don’t take a fragment and not use all of it to contort my words. Obviously, it was rhetorical flair.

    I can explain the difference between, say, concealed carry and abortion as, say, the difference between “prudent judgment” and “objective grave moral evil”. At least I suppose that’s how theologians would argue it.

    On one hand, even opponents of concealed carry aren’t looking to strip police and the military of their firearms, they just don’t think they should be available to the general population. Ergo, in some subset of circumstances, carrying a firearm is morally ok, if not morally laudable.

    On the flipside, there is no circumstance (save those true cases of life of the mother with no other options), where abortion is anything but gravely and objectively evil.

    But why let reason and logic interfere with mindless polemics (and yes, that would be irony coming from me which makes your position that much more absurd).

  22. - downhereforyears - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 2:53 pm:

    Pfleger is way over the top, at times inciting people to break the law. Good riddance. I’m just shocked it took the good Cardinal this long.

  23. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 3:30 pm:

    === The pro-life position of the church and opposition to abortion did undergo some modification during the late nineteenth century, but this should not be a surprise. The medical and scientific communities made advances that improved the understanding of human biology and prenatal life in utero. ===

    LOL. The changes in the Church’s stance had nothing to do with medical advances.

    For 2000 years the Church has gone back-and-forth on the philosophical question of whether life begins at conception or quickening.

    Which stands in stark contrast to the very real fact that life ends when a loaded gun ends up in the wrong hands, as loaded guns have a habit of doing.

  24. - John Bambenek - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 3:37 pm:


    “real fact that life ends when a loaded gun ends up in the wrong hands, as loaded guns have a habit of doing. ”

    One, I would suspect most people who get shot tend to live through it reading the various police reports. I could be wrong, but nonetheless shot != killed.

    Two, loaded guns don’t have a habit of getting into the wrong hands nearly in the proportion you are suggesting. I propose several ways to analyze the absurdity of that statement. First, we can compare the number of operable firearms out there to the number of weapons used in crimes. I suspect that’s not even close to a fraction of 1%.

    We could, say, take the total number of people who have every handled a firearm and compare that to the number of murders. Again, far less than 1%.

    As far as quickening vs conception of when life begins, while there has been a bit of academic debate on when “life begins”, the Church, as far as my brief research yields, has always held abortion as grave evil, even if before “life begins” (i.e. quickening or ensoulment standards).

    Of course, those debates more or less ended about a millenium ago.

  25. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 3:50 pm:

    @John -

    65,000 firearms injuries and 30,000 firearms fatalities in the U.S. per year.

    For some perspective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were 33,000 people killed in car accidents and 11,000 killed in drunk driving accidents.

    We require cars to be sold with seatbelts but don’t require guns to be sold with trigger locks.

    The police can instantly search the ownership record of every car and history of every driver, but keeping those same records for gun owners is compared to Nazism.

    You need to do more research on the Catholic Church. Try searching St. Thomas.

  26. - Because I say so - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 4:44 pm:

    Seems to me that many of Pfleger’s motives have been self serving. I agree that he has done good things for his community but he intentionally stirs the pot and for the sake of confrontation. He and his parishioners have been given privilege by allowing him to stay ay Sabina’s for all these years. Many other Catholic’s have petitioned the Archdiocese to keep beloved pastors to no avail. I’m not a fan of Cardinal George but it’s time that Pfleger was put in his place. If you are a Catholic Priest you follow the rules

  27. - Park - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 5:10 pm:

    Hopefully he’ll reconsider and take the Leo job. He could have some positive influence on those kids.

    He knows he’s been given extraordinary leeway for years, and also know that his recent comments about leaving the Church were way over the top. The Catholic Church is unique in having a strong central authority. There’s no shiite v. sunni, no splintering into a million separate mini churches, no council of elders voting on local dogma. There’s good and bad about all that, but he knows the rules.

    Not too many priests who have split off have ended up happy about it (maybe the occasional Luther).

  28. - A Paul Andrews, III - Thursday, Apr 28, 11 @ 5:44 pm:

    It seems interesting to me that the politicians, both Republican and Democrat, who has mismanaged the State’s revenues and expenditures for so long, are now asking the innocent state workers to pay the price of their mismanagement. What percent of these same politicians’ salaries would it take to balance the budget for this year? This has to be the most fair and equitable solution to the current budget crisis, including eliminating their health and pension contributions.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Happy Thanksgiving!
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Five unanswered questions
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Question of the day
* Caption contest!
* Crossing the line
* Moody's warns Illinois
* The Credit Union Difference
* *** UPDATED x1 - Franks responds *** Uh-oh
* Then and now
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's blog posts

Visit our advertisers...







Search This Blog...

Search the 98th General Assembly By Bill Number
(example: HB0001)

Search the 98th General Assembly By Keyword

* A modular computer for kids lands on Indiegogo
* Some Project Fi subscribers might be getting a Lego kit from Google
* Gauging how we use the Apple Watch
* [Deal] Nest Thermostat + Nest Protect bundle, Nest Cam get big discounts
* Uncertainty comes to Samsung Galaxy A5 rumors as sources clash over specs
* Japanese anime Bleach is getting an Android game called Brave Souls
* “Futurama: Game of Drones” is a Matt Groening mobile game revival

* Scouting profile: Adam Engel
* Alex Avila will try to shed limitations with White Sox
* White Sox program provides kids real chance
* Johnson solid candidate for White Sox rotation
* White Sox sign catcher Avila to one-year deal
* White Sox sign catcher Avila to one-year deal
* White Sox sign catcher Avila to one-year deal


Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0


* Rauner faces challenges in move to block Syrian.....
* Rauner faces challenges in move to block Syrian.....
* Gov. Rauner pardons man wrongfully convicted fo.....
* Rauner faces challenges in move to block Syrian.....
* Rauner faces challenges in move to block Syrian.....

* Hunters find body of missing southern Illinois woman
* EXCHANGE: Augustana digitizing Hauberg glass plate images
* Rauner faces challenges in move to block Syrian refugees
* Illinois high court takes Moline company's tax break appeal
* Boone County jail inmate charged with attacking guard
* Chicago schools prepare lesson plan on teen's shooting
* Chicago Public Schools reverses special education cuts
* Former Chicago Transit workers sentenced in fraud scheme
* Rauner pardons man found innocent of 1999 attack
* Springfield police chief bemoans body-cam 'burden'

* Rauner pardons man found innocent of 1999 attack
* Springfield jobless rate falls again, to 5.1 percent
* Springfield police chief sees problems with body cam law
* Lawsuit challenges Illinois ban on marijuana campaign money
* Number of Illinois inmates released on parole climbing
* Bryce Benton circulating petitions to challenge Sen. Sam McCann in GOP primary
* Executive Mansion roof repairs nearing completion
* Candidates begin filing petitions for March primary election
* Benton circulating petitions to challenge McCann in GOP primary
* Rauner administration says House Democrats holding local aid hostage

* Review: Sociale in the South Loop
* Her Barbie was a lawyer. Now she defends victims' rights
* Meet the guy making money off your food scraps
* Anger, pain and calls for change in response to police video
* United, Delta bet on long oil slump

* White House under holiday lockdown after man jumps fence
* Trevor Daley turning the corner at both ends of the ice
* Rauner faces challenges in move to block Syrian refugees
* Brown: Simeon basketball players bring their A-game to court
* 16 reasons every Blackhawks fan should be thankful on Thanksgiving
* Blackhawks cool off Sharks; Kane extends point streak to 17
* Four more Laquan McDonald police dashcam videos released
* President Obama: ‘Disturbed’ by Laquan video, grateful for ‘peaceful’ protests
* Black leaders call for Supt. McCarthy to resign
* Viktor Tikhonov embraces off-ice role as Artemi Panarin’s guide

* 1 dead, 2 wounded in North, South Side shootings
* Laquan McDonald shooting protest groups plan Friday march
* Cops: Man tried to lure, kidnap 9-year-old girl in South Chicago
* Naval recruits get taste of home at Chicago Ridge Thanksgiving dinner
* Cops: Will County explosions just legal shooting practice
* Charges: Former Illinois man abducted, assaulted teen; kept him shackled
* Fast fashion shopping: It's cute, it's cheap, but should you really buy it?
* Four new Laquan McDonald shooting videos raise more questions
* Overnight Log: Second night of Loop protests as they unfolded
* Teen dead, 4 other people wounded in city shootings

* Eugene Robinson: The GOP's political correctness dodge
* Douglas Holt: Woman's protest of Trump was misguided, inappropriate
* George Will: Muzzling pet advice another case of free speech erosion
* Bernard Schoenburg: Josh Langfelder took father's advice on election petition signatures
* Rauner pardons man found innocent of 1999 attack
* Springfield jobless rate falls again, to 5.1 percent
* Michael Gerson: The Trump effect, still 'understated'
* Catherine Rampell: For millennials, first comes love — then what?
* Springfield police chief sees problems with body cam law
* Lawsuit challenges Illinois ban on marijuana campaign money

* 48th Annual Turkey Trot
* Podcast: Champaign County States Attorney Julia Rietz 11-26-15
* Wednesday's highlights: Nottingham, Chargers get first win
* Clubs listings, Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 2015
* Area update: Soup kitchen needs help with backpack giveaway
* Frank's Faves: Giving thanks
* Golf links swap hits roadblock
* Chuck Koplinski: Beautiful 'Brooklyn' a love story for the ages
* Update on candidate filings in Vermilion County for 2016
* 80th N-G All-State Football: POY Josh King

* Lake Zurich Culver's feeds hundreds for Thanksgiving
* Old and new friends break bread at annual Lazarus House dinner
* 2,820 run through Batavia
* Elk Grove Village extends leaf pickup
* Prospect Heights names its officer of the year

* House lawmakers overcome hurdle on key tra...
* Rodney Davis talks funding with Bloomingto...
* The agency that fought Illiana gets a new ...
* Rep. Dold takes educational cruise down Ch...
* Lawmakers decry high turnover rate of VA h...
* CBD Oil, and politics
* Simon considering state Senate bid
* Killer Congressman Tom MacArthur trying to...
* Shutdown? State may not notice
* Rep. Bob Dold

* Nebraska ethanol producers name former Dur......

* Opinion: Sen. Kirk must stand with crimina......

* Chicago Teachers Union. “If we strike, we do so to protect our children,” says Karen Jennings Lewis.
* Resign.
* Don't Let The Turkeys Get You Down
* “The Driver’s Side” – News From The Motorist’s Perspective
* IDOT Debuts Winter Weather Driving Tips Video
* Pot Dangerous? Mother's Testimony Says Yes [video]
* Happy Thanksgiving
* It seems like it’s everywhere, that video of the final moments of Laquan’s life
* Laquan McDonald.
* Sixteen shots. The story that broke the silence.

* Emergency Management Officials, National Weather Service Encourage Winter Preparedness - November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
* Keep Your Family Safe This Winter - November through February are leading months for carbon monoxide related incidents
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

    Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller