Action Alert!

The curious non-violence of Father Pfleger

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 27, 2012

Do you remember Father Michael Pfleger?

Of course you do. How could you forget the Chicago priest whose public mockery of Hillary Clinton—then competing with his favorite candidate, Barack Obama, for the Democratic presidential nomination—earned him a brief leave of absence?

How could you forget his antics just about a year ago, when he refused to accept a new parish assignment from Cardinal George, insisting that he wanted to remain at St. Sabina’s, where he has been for 30 years? When Cardinal George did not immediately back down, Father Pfleger escalated their conflict with a public statement that certainly sounded like a threat to leave the priesthood. That statement won him a suspension from ministry. But when he apologized, Cardinal George reinstated him. And guess what? He stayed at St. Sabina—thereby teaching young children everywhere that if they really can hold their breath until they turn blue, Mom and Dad probably will let them watch their favorite TV shows.

So what’s Father Pfleger doing these days? He’s still on stage—I use the term advisedly—at St. Sabina’s. Here’s a recent sample of his pastoral style.

Oh, and by the way: Earlier this year Cardinal George gave Father Pfleger new responsibilities, as administrator of another parish (in addition to St. Sabina’s), and as head of an archdiocesan drive against violence. That’s right: The priest you see haranguing his congregation in that video, screaming for action, is in charge of preventing violence.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: gcreel5531 - Mar. 28, 2012 2:12 PM ET USA

    Cardinal George's inaction reminds me of the managers and supervisors I used to deal with who didn't want to remove an in-your-face, back-stabbing under performing subordinate from a job. The reason being it would leave them 'critically short a man'. We would have a heart-to-heart about how people like that poison the atmosphere of the whole organization. And completely undercuts what little respect and authority they may have had left.

  • Posted by: Cornelius - Mar. 28, 2012 8:55 AM ET USA

    It's been said before: where is Cardinal George's concern for souls? A priest who leads his flock astray is doing incalculable spiritual harm. To leave him in place is to evince disbelief in essential matters of faith.

  • Posted by: Defender - Mar. 27, 2012 7:01 PM ET USA

    Is it any wonder why the laity has so little confidence in the leadership of the Church?