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Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
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Cardinal George suspends Father Pfleger

April 28, 2011

Cardinal Francis George has suspended the faculties of Father Michael Pfleger, the controversial pastor of St. Sabina Parish in Chicago, after the priest said that he would rather leave the Church than accept a position as a high school principal.

In an April 27 letter to the priest, Cardinal George recounted that the two were in discussions over whether the priest would leave his pastorate to become president of Leo High School. “You promised to consider what was a proposal, not a demand, even as I urged you to accept it,” the cardinal said.

“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,” Cardinal George continued. “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.”

The cardinal added:

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.

With this letter, your ministry as pastor of Saint Sabina Parish and your sacramental faculties as a priest of the Archdiocese are suspended. The official rescript will follow, but this suspension permits you to retain the office of pastor while temporarily without permission to function …

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.


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  • Posted by: imanxufan9901 - Apr. 30, 2011 6:40 AM ET USA

    It's about time the clamp was put on this man. A trouble maker from the get go!

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Apr. 28, 2011 8:08 PM ET USA

    I only hope that Cardinal George removes Father Pfleger immediately and permanently. The last time he suspended Father Pfleger's faculties, he almost immediately reinstated this clerical wingnut.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 28, 2011 6:59 PM ET USA

    "...(T)his suspension permits you to retain the office of pastor while temporarily without permission to function …" Just prolonging the pain to the church.

  • Posted by: williiam ronner - Apr. 28, 2011 3:43 PM ET USA

    As the Holy Father said, the Catholic Church may eventually smaller but better. This may be the first, and very courageous step, in fulfilling that possible eventuality.

  • Posted by: Obregon - Apr. 28, 2011 2:55 PM ET USA

    I just have a question. Why would the Cardinal want to proposed to such a rebellious priest, with a long history of heterodox teaching, a position in a Catholic high school? Just a thought! What did those kids and parents do to the Cardinal to deserve such a punishment? If I were a parent sending my child to Leo High School, and hear Michael Pfleger is coming over to take over the high school, I would pull my child out of there immediately!

  • Posted by: spledant7672 - Apr. 28, 2011 11:17 AM ET USA

    Grace and truth expressed so attractively and with such clarity in these days is simply breathtaking. Such answers to prayer are very happy reminders to pray for the bishops of the Church. Thank you for reporting this.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 28, 2011 8:15 AM ET USA

    I think the "medicine of mercy" has been lavishly applied to Fr. Pfleger already and Cardinal George is entirely right to take this action.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 28, 2011 7:23 AM ET USA

    This is LONG overdue! But the letter is terribly well written!