Earlier this month on the Tavis Smiley show, Fr. Pfleger said:
“I want to try to stay in the Catholic Church,” Pfleger said. “If they say ‘You either take this principalship of [Leo High School] 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.”
At the time I had hoped that Cardinal George would respond to this. He has and in a letter written to F.r Phleger wrote:
That process has now been short-circuited by your remarks on national radio and in local newspapers that you will leave the Catholic Church if you are told to accept an assignment other than as pastor of Saint Sabina Parish. If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish. A Catholic priest’s inner life is governed by his promises, motivated by faith and love, to live chastely as a celibate man and to obey his bishop. Breaking either promise destroys his vocation and wounds the Church. Bishops are held responsible for their priests on the assumption that priests obey them. I have consistently supported your work for social justice and admired your passion for ministry. Many love and admire you because of your dedication to your people. Now, however, I am asking you to take a few weeks to pray over your priestly commitments in order to come to mutual agreement on how you understand personally the obligations that make you a member of the Chicago presbyterate and of the Catholic Church.
That statement is exactly right and truly it has been right about Fr. Pfleger for a long time. Cardinal George gave him a lifetime achievement award last year and he defended this saying in part.
Fr. Plfeger has spoken in anger, sometimes unjustly or uncharitably; and anger is easier to capture on the camera than is love.
Funny that a TV appearance has been his downfall. Though previously when F. Pfleger previously supported women’s ordination it was not spoken in anger and was on video on the parish’s site.
Father Pfleger, I deeply regret that your public remarks have brought you to a moment of crisis that I pray will quickly pass. This conflict is not between you and me; it’s between you and the Church that ordained you a priest, between you and the faith that introduced you to Christ and gives you the right to preach and pastor in his name. If you now formally leave the Catholic Church and her priesthood, it’s your choice and no one else’s. You are not a victim of anyone or anything other than your own statements. To avoid misrepresentation and manipulation on anyone’s part, this letter will be released to the parish, which is to publish it in its entirety, and to the media after it has been delivered to you.
You remain in my prayers, and I hope I remain in yours.
Please remember to pray for Fr. Pfleger and that he does repent of his attitude. Like Father Bourgeois he will more than likely take the way of ego and Pfleger ego is one of those things you can see from space. But of course nothing is impossible with God.
In the meantime 100 of his previous parishioners demonstrated outside to Cardinal George’s residence protesting Fr. Pfleger’s suspension. To be expected when you turn the pastorate into a cult-of-personality. It is his very relationship with his parish that I think has caused Cardinal George let him be a public embarrassment over and over again to avoid a schism in St. Sabina like in the case Father George Augustus Stallings Jr. St. Sabina deserves better even if they don’t know it.
After the protest, Glover said he would likely remain in the parish even if Pfleger leaves, as long as Pfleger is treated with respect and Magwaza is allowed to take over, but he said he would probably leave the parish and perhaps the church if Pfleger left and Magwaza was not allowed to become pastor.
How prevalent this attitude is I certainly don’t know, but I suspect many of the Pfleger trained parishioners have been virtually in schism putting a pastor over the local bishop.
Vince A. Clark, an assistant to Pfleger, said the cardinal’s decision to suspend the priest has left his parishioners “shocked, devastated, hurt (and) angry.”
“We were totally blindsided by that,” Clark said, standing in front of the cardinal’s home on the Near North Side. “We did not see that decision coming.”
Too bad he wasn’t shocked by the appearance on the Tavis Smiley show by Fr. Pfleger. A pastor saying he will “look outside of the church” if he doesn’t get his way should have left him “shocked, devastated, hurt (and) angry.”
Considering some of Fr. Pfleger’s activism maybe the Cardinal could appoint him to the local chapter of the St. Gabriel Possenti Society.