Radical Priest to return to Parish on June 16

Rick Moran
So much for guts at the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Despite using shockingly racist language in a sermon at Trinity United Church, Father Michael Pflger is being allowed to return to his St. Sabina parish next week:

The choir was booming, the dancers were swirling and open seats were scarce in the sweltering pews, but longtime members of St. Sabina Catholic Church thought Sunday's service was a bit flat in the absence of Rev. Michael Pfleger.

Cardinal Francis George had ordered the fiery activist priest to take two weeks off after Pfleger's widely broadcast comments mocking Sen. Hillary Clinton and saying, in what he later called a slip of the tongue, that "America is the greatest sin against God."

Some of his intensely devoted parishioners were worried that his sabbatical would prove permanent. So when a St. Sabina official announced during mass that Pfleger would return June 16, the church exploded in cheers.


"I was just overwhelmed," Brandy Scott, 27, said later. "I had to cry."

This would be beyond understanding if one didn't realize the enormous political clout that Pfleger weilds on the South Side of Chicago and how the Catholic church in that city is just not equipped to deal with him. He has served as pastor at St. Sabina for 28 years - about 4 times longer than the average pastor serving at one parish. He was told he couldn't adopt any children when he expressed a desire to do so - he adopted three. He has constantly gone against the wishes of the archdiocese and yet remains a fixture at St. Sabina's largely because the church is afraid of offfending African Americans and the political fallout that would result if he were forced out.

Pfleger counts among his friends the most politically powerful in Chicago including the mayor, Senator Dick Durbin, Louis Farrakhan, and Jeremiah Wright. The three religious icons are extremely influential in city politics and are seen as indespensible bridges to the black community.

Pfleger's radicalism is nothing unusual in a city that resisted integration for so long and where black radicals have thrived for decades. His sermons against whites resonate very strongly with an African American population that had almost zero political power until quite recently. We may not like the Archdiocese coddling this man. But in their view, they have little choice.

So much for guts at the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Despite using shockingly racist language in a sermon at Trinity United Church, Father Michael Pflger is being allowed to return to his St. Sabina parish next week:

The choir was booming, the dancers were swirling and open seats were scarce in the sweltering pews, but longtime members of St. Sabina Catholic Church thought Sunday's service was a bit flat in the absence of Rev. Michael Pfleger.

Cardinal Francis George had ordered the fiery activist priest to take two weeks off after Pfleger's widely broadcast comments mocking Sen. Hillary Clinton and saying, in what he later called a slip of the tongue, that "America is the greatest sin against God."

Some of his intensely devoted parishioners were worried that his sabbatical would prove permanent. So when a St. Sabina official announced during mass that Pfleger would return June 16, the church exploded in cheers.


"I was just overwhelmed," Brandy Scott, 27, said later. "I had to cry."

This would be beyond understanding if one didn't realize the enormous political clout that Pfleger weilds on the South Side of Chicago and how the Catholic church in that city is just not equipped to deal with him. He has served as pastor at St. Sabina for 28 years - about 4 times longer than the average pastor serving at one parish. He was told he couldn't adopt any children when he expressed a desire to do so - he adopted three. He has constantly gone against the wishes of the archdiocese and yet remains a fixture at St. Sabina's largely because the church is afraid of offfending African Americans and the political fallout that would result if he were forced out.

Pfleger counts among his friends the most politically powerful in Chicago including the mayor, Senator Dick Durbin, Louis Farrakhan, and Jeremiah Wright. The three religious icons are extremely influential in city politics and are seen as indespensible bridges to the black community.

Pfleger's radicalism is nothing unusual in a city that resisted integration for so long and where black radicals have thrived for decades. His sermons against whites resonate very strongly with an African American population that had almost zero political power until quite recently. We may not like the Archdiocese coddling this man. But in their view, they have little choice.