Pfleger's suspension: a "slap in the face" to African Americans?

Pfleger's suspension: a "slap in the face" to African Americans? May 1, 2011

That’s the contention of the African American priest who is filling in for Pfleger at his Chicago parish.


The priest sent to take over for the now-suspended Fr. Michael Pfleger said he didn’t feel comfortable following the cardinal’s orders but did so because he took a vow of obedience.

During a Saturday evening homily that had him hitting the podium and his chest several times, Fr. Andrew Smith spoke to those he felt were “frowning” at him for moving from St. Ailbe to St. Sabina’s.

“This ain’t about me,” he told the parishioners, many of whom don’t understand Francis Cardinal George’s decision to suspend Pfleger.  “They tried to slip and trip me in this nonsense.”

Smith said he respected Pfleger, learned from him and felt the suspension was a “slap in the face for the African-American community.”

The controversial Fr. Pfleger, meantime, isn’t going down without a fight:

Sources close to Pfleger told NBC Chicago on Friday that the controversial south side pastor has hired two canon lawyers who believe he has a case.

Pfleger was notified of the suspension Wednesday in a letter he received from Francis Cardinal George. Pfleger believes the cardinal acted on intentions, rather than his actions, sources said.

While the cardinal has authority to transfer a pastor, the church laws on suspending a pastor and prohibiting him from performing the sacraments is quite stringent.

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10 responses to “Pfleger's suspension: a "slap in the face" to African Americans?”

  1. Not smart. The cardinal didn’t wait until Pfleger actually refused to move before suspending him. To be scrupulously fair, it is quite possible that when the time came to obey or stay, Pfleger might very well have backed down, packed up, and headed to Leo. His position has been quite unusual for a long time — every other pastor in the diocese moves every seven or fourteen years.

    The cardinal just badly overplayed his hand. If things are as they appear, PFleger indeed has an excellent case.

  2. Fr. Pfleger is wrong. Whether or not the process is right or wrong is not the issue for me. He deliberately went to the press to provoke and he wants me to think he’s a victim. At the same time, we are subjected to let’s get rid of the bishops because they don’t see to want to get rid of bad priests. Well, if this priest is any indication – and I don’t put him in a “bad” category, just a wrong one and we support him – no one the bishops don’t act.

  3. The suspension was not because he refused the assignment -but because he said he would leave the Church. It would seem to me that matters of faith (defecting from the Catholic Faith?) would have a bit more traction in matters of assignment.

    As for Canon law – I’ve learned to leave that to trained canonists. If justice has not been done, this will be corrected.

  4. The threat implicit in Pfleger leaving the Church is the threat to take some significant number of St. Sabina’s parishioners with him.

    1) That this is a plausible scenario shows that leaving him there for over 30 years was a mistake, that was compounded year after year.

    2) If you are thinking “good riddance” to the thought of losing these hundreds of Catholics, then, yeah, I would wonder if their race has something to do with it.

  5. I seriously doubt the cardinal did anything without first consulting a bevy of canon lawyers first. He did not get where he is by being stupid or brash.

  6. The only question I have is why did it take Cardinal George so long to remove Pfleger. Allowing him to stay at St. Sabina’s for so long was an insult not simply to African-Americans but also to Catholics everywhere. Perhaps Pfleger will now seek solace in the diocese of Albany, New York, as chaplain-at-large in the Governor’s mansion. But he will need the approval of Bishop Hubbard, of course.

  7. If you have not been to the St. Sabine website, please do so. I find it very disturbing. Although there is a great deal of events/work going on to help the local community, there is little mention of the phrase “Roman Catholic” or even “Catholic.” The wording remind me more of one of the Protestant mega-churches.

    It is unfortunate, that the race card is about to be played here. It is usually the last defense, when you know you have no other cards to play. (With the exception of select well known “rabble rousers” such as Al Sharpton.)

  8. African-American Community? Does anyone remember the words of the Epistle about neither Greek or Roman, free or slave . . .? This identity-politics stuff is a lot of things but one thing it isn’t- that’s Catholic.

  9. There are African-American parishes and priests in dioceses throughout the United States, and possibly Chicago as well, that manage to be obedient to their ordinary without running at the mouth to the press about feeling slapped in the face for being asked to do so. It would be nice to hear about these Catholics for a change.

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