Cardinal George Has Enough of Father PflegerHis Eminence Francis Cardinal George, OMI, Archbishop of Chicago, has asked Father Michael Pfleger to take a leave of absence after he made a mockery of Hillary Clinton in a sermon in which he publicly endorsed Barack Obama after being invited to preach at the now-infamous Trinity United Church of Christ:
Cardinal Francis George asked a Chicago priest on Tuesday to temporarily
step down from his post to "reflect on his recent statements" regarding Sen.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and her bid for the White House.
Last week, the Rev. Michael Pfleger mocked Clinton at Sen. Barack
Obama's former church, saying the New York senator felt "entitled" to the
Democratic nomination for president.
In a guest sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ, Pfleger pretended he was Clinton crying over "a black man stealing my show."
George asked Pfleger to take leave from pastoral duties at St. Sabina
Church in order to "reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of
the church's regulations for all Catholic priests," according to a statement
Tuesday from the Archdiocese of Chicago.
"While respecting his disagreement, I have nevertheless asked him to use
this opportunity to reflect," George said in the statement. "I hope that this
period will also be a time away from the public spotlight and for rest and
attention to family concerns."
In fairness, Father Pfleger is still, despite all of his imperfections, a priest of God and a member of the hierarchy of authority within the Holy Catholic and apostolic Church, and hence is deserving of the same respect that any other priest would be entitled and deserve from the laity.
He also flagrantly violated a long-standing custom since the end of the reign of Bleesed Pius IX that the Church is happy to get behind causes (and does), but will not endorse individual candidates. Father Pfleger is free to endorse whoever he might wish as an individual, but to show up in any church of any denomination in black suit and Roman collar and say the things that he did is an endorsement in his capacity as priest and pastor-something that is wholly unacceptable.
He has a history of making bazaar public pronouncements and embarrassing the Church.
I can only imagine the conversation between Pfleger and Cardinal George. His Eminence must believe that Pfleger has lost his marbles, and one has to wonder if His Eminence would be right in that assumption. Cardinal George is, after all, one of the most orthodox (some would say "conservative") bishops and may be the most orthodox Cardinal in the American Church. He has also been quite outspoken that Catholics should in no way support candidates for high office who are not pro-life (as that is a "first things" issue of life and death), and that this is an act of grave spiritual consequences. Did Father Pfleger really believe that Cardinal George was going to put up with his behavior? Was he aiming to be defrocked? Surely Father Pfleger knew Cardinal George would not allow him to continue to pastor a parish knowing that Cardinal George enforces the doctrine of the Church in the manner in which he does. I would imagine that His Eminence probably watched the whole spectacle thinking that Pfleger can't be quite right, because if he were he wouldn't behave that way because of the consequences of his actions.
Cardinal George decided enough was enough.