Father Pfleger’s Future At St. Sabina In Question

CHICAGO (CBS 2) – CBS 2’s Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that during a meeting last Friday that Francis Cardinal George allegedly asked Father Michael Pfleger to leave St. Sabina for the Presidency of struggling Leo High School.

Pfleger tells CBS 2, “I can neither confirm nor deny that at this point. That’s not something I can respond to at this point.”

Pfleger was asked if there are discussions ongoing between him, Cardinal George and the Archdiocese about leaving the parish in which he said, “I’m in discussions with the Archdiocese but you know those are private conversations at this point and I can’t comment at this point about those conversations.”

Pfleger has been at St. Sabina since 1981 which is far longer than priests are normally permitted to stay in one parish.

Pfleger hinted about a new battle in last Sunday’s sermon , “And let me say real clearly today I love being your pastor and I love being your shepherd, but you’re looking at a man made a choice hold onto god, wherever god takes me.”

Pfleger is no stranger to controversy, whether it involves stores allegedly selling drug paraphernalia, alleged racism in the Chicago fire department or fiery rhetoric from the pulpit when he mocked Hillary Clinton’s reaction to a surging Barack Obama.

“Oh damn, where did you come from? I’m white, I’m entitled, there’s a Black man stealing my show,” said Pfleger when he mocked Hillary Clinton’s reaction to a surging Barack Obama.

Cardinal George at the time called it “a partisan and personal attack” and ordered Pfleger to take a leave of absence.

When asked about his relationship with Cardinal George and how it plays into his future, Pfleger said, “All I can say is that the philosophy and theology of church that I think we practice here is the church, I grew up where the church is the center of challenge, conscience of growth and community, and a lot of people ask me how are you out of synch with the church today, and I say, I didn’t change, the church changed.”

Leo High School, just a few blocks from St. Sabina, suffers from declining enrollment and an uncertain future. Pfleger, while supportive, seems poised to fight the move.

“I love what I do here, I love being pastor at St. Sabina, there’s nothing in the world I’d rather do than be pastor at St. Sabina and I’m very happy here right now,” Pfleger said about the possibility of leaving.

  • Arthur Lamberti

    Father Pfleger must be a very special man. The rules that apply to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Chicago, do not apply to him. It’s the Chicago way, in politics, and in this case – religion.

    • aj

      irst don’t have a rule unless you are going to follow it. Other Pastors torn away from parishes they love, yet Fr. Pfleger can stay in one assignment his entire priesthood is unfair. Secondly the rule, started when an abundance of pastors would be there forever; a whole group of priests would never be Pastor is not good now when moving priests is just that: moving A to B to C to A. Third the role of Pastor is patterned after THE Good Shepherd who said, “I know my sheep and my sheep know me”. Good bonding can occur between a people and their Pastor. Keep the 6 year term, have a strong evaluation program, use the term/evaluation as a way of moving a Pastor if he wants to or if the people want that. Terms=yes; term limits=no. Fourth the Archdiocese allowed Fr. Pfleger to be there since his 74 ordination(Pastor since 81). The Arch. mismanaged this all along; because he has lived in his “home” & “community” for almost 40 years, let him, 62 yrs old, stay 8 more years until he retires. You let him stay for 40 years, what’s another 8? Fifth, Fr. Pfleger has a specialized and unique ministry to African-American Catholics. For his people, as he’s been there so long and done so much, is it that morally horrific to let him continue to do the good that he is doing (of course, that he has also done some bad as well – the Hillary Clinton thing among others)? What’s it REALLY hurting?

  • Tommy

    Father Pfleger at Leo High School? Times have changed haven’t they. Father Pfleger is an animal.

    My father, who has passed away, was a graduate of Leo High School, and I am sure that he will be rolling in his grave over this one.

  • Just the facts

    Pfleger is a race-baitor and a disgrace!!! He’s as bad if not worse then J. Jackson and Sharpton.

    • allan

      Father Pfleger is a self-hating white man.

  • crab outside of the barrel

    i think he should be let to stay were he is. leo’s problems arent his and putting him at the helm is not gonna convince any of his congragation to send there kids there.

  • V

    Have any of you all been to the neighborhood around St. Sabina? Probably not.
    Father Pleger is exactly what that neighborhood needs! He is a pillar in that struggling community. I’ve never met a priest so real, down to earth & understanding in my life. That church and community needs him.

  • joe

    FYI God would have a capital G in the Catholic fatih

  • born2beliberal

    @Tommy and just the facts, I hear hatred in your heart….to call Father Pflegar an animal is just wrong he is one of the kindest men I know…I grew up in that neighborhood my family has lived there since 1974…I’ve spoken with Alumin of St. Leo and I have found the response is devided on race lines the African American Alumni I’ve spoken with have no problem with him coming to St.Leo, but the blue collar Caucasiomn Alumni share your view (I would bet my life you are caucasion)
    ….I feel the Archdiocese is wrong to send him there thinking it will help enrollment, we are in a recession and people just can’t afford Catholic School…

    • Dan

      The school is named Leo, not St. Leo. St. Leo was a grammar school that has since closed. Leo is named after Pope Leo XIII. The Caucasians you speak of have been supporting this school for many years with no regard to the color of the students skin and they continue to do so to this day because they know the value this education provides.

    • Tommy

      If you hear hatred in my heart, then you are misinformed. If you attend the sermons of Pflegar, and are attuned to that whistle when it blows, then you have become accustomed to hearing the hate speech of Pflegar through an ear which has become jaundiced. You immediately asked if I was Caucasion, which tells me that you see everything in black and white, and are not race agnostic. You harbor the heart of a racist.

      You may find it hard to believe but I grew up totally ignorant of most of the hate between whites and blacks. I grew up in the suburbs and was totally unaware of the hatred that many held in their hearts for whites until I visited Chicago late in my teenage years. My father was friends with many blacks, through his entire life, and when he began dating my mother use to frequent many jazz clubs as a youth. They were alone, most whites did not follow in the path my father did.

      When I became older and I saw the hate between blacks and whites I was able to see who the promoters of the divisions between the races. Pflegar may speak the truth 80% of the time that he speaks, but he sows hate 100% of the time so his time on Earth has been wasted because the people that he led – he led to a dead end. Those that followed him for all of those decades are lost in a struggle that no longer exists in most cases due to racism, yet he promotes that angle because those are the only words that he has in his quiver.

      The Archdiocese is trying to get him out of the church because he has made a mess of so many peoples lives and they are trying to reconcile with what they have done and move the congregation forward. To send the monster to Leo is wrong. He should be thrown out or retired but they fear him because, HE IS A HATEFUL MAN.

  • jimbo

    I remember Father Pflegar form his days at OLPH in Glenview where he served as a deacon. He was about attention then and still looking for it today. He does not like to be told what to do and thinks he is “bigger” than the church.

  • Nextel

    Leo High School is a tradition school. Educational choice passed down from father to son over many decades. I must say the to drive around St. Sabina is a pleasure. A very clean and welcoming property area. Leo, is at best a dismal looking school, surrounded by filth and boarded homes. Father Pflegar is a character, but one who has dedicated his priesthood to helping the less fortunate. Sure he bangs the drum for attention, but it is to sound the alarm for imporvement. I don’t think the neighborhoods will turn white any time soon, but the black population have a place to be proud of. Leo, suffers from location conflict. Good luck to Leo and support Father Pflegar regardless of his next assignment.

  • Ex-Catholic

    I knew 3 priests who all resented Phleger, said he wanted the spotlight, was a bad priest etc. (It was clear they were jealous.)
    They all got busted, if you catch my drift.

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  • Chivi

    Time will tell all.

  • pearlee

    If there is a lot of white priests that are willing to go to a black neighborhood then let them. We all know that lots of nuns and priests do not live in the south side of Chicago. Nor will they move in with them because of the crime, the rape and all kinds of drugs being peddled there each and every night.
    So, are this black souls needed to be saved? How many did father Flegger saved already? Stop the special consideration. The rule should apply to each and everyone of them. We all wish the Pope himself would come and fix this thing. This is not politics. It is eternity and souls are involved right here.

  • Bored at work

    Totally random but aren’t bike messengers in the city nasty? I was walking out of my building when one almost nailed me. He was going the opposite way on a one way street and was traveling on the wrong side of the street. He yelled at me like I was the one with the problem. Has anybody out there had a similar experience?

    • Commuter

      Oh yeah it’s a distinct subculture. They think they’re entitled to own the road, and have this “bicycle superiority” thing, like they’re better than everyone else. Sheez, I mean a bike is a kid’s toy.

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    […] Father Pfleger’s Future At St. Sabina In Question […]

  • Anita Garrick

    Why, with the shortage of priests, would you put an ordained man in a position that could be filled by any lay person? This makes no sense. Fr. Pfleger is a good man, a good administrator, and very committed to education, parochial schools, and the advancement of young people in inner city Chicago. He could easily do the job that is being offered to him, but would it be the best use of his talents?

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  • Mary T Burke

    One thing not mentioned in this discussion is that Leo already has a president who has been working very hard to build the school’s image and morale. If this is how the Archdiocese treats its own people, why would anyone from the outside want to work in any capacity for the Archdiocese? This is disgraceful, if there is any truth to it, which there might not be. Maybe Fr P hasn’t been in the headlines lately.

    • Tim

      I agree with Mary T Burke,

      Dan McGrath, the current president, has been working extremely hard on behalf of Leo.
      I hope he is not being pushed aside.

  • Keith C. Martin, Sr. Leo High School c/o '93

    LEO High School, its current President, Alumni Association; which consist of both Black & White alumni welcome any help in boosting LEO High School’s enrollment. Father Pfleger is a great leader in the African-American community, but I think LEO will be okay, and thrive once again under its current Leadership. Keith C. Martin, Sr. LEO High School c/o ’93

  • Springfield

    Though employed by the Catholic church, Pfleger is a believer in the Social Gospel. He give Catholicism a bad name. Belief in Christ is low on the list. He’s also a self-promoter. He’s on the news as often as Jackson & Sharpton. Maybe the Cardinal is hoping to tie him up with running the school to get him out of the public view. Finally, some action to fid us of him.

    • Dan

      Now there’s a well reasoned reply!

  • Jennifer Foster McVicker

    There was a previous comment posted by a person claiming to be BOB FOSTER which has since been removed. This comment was NOT written by Bob Foster. I’m certain that anyone who read this comment and knows Bob Foster realized that he would not write such a disgraceful and ignorant display of words, not to mention his writing style is above the 4th grade level.

  • Parents Club

    As the president of the Leo High School Parents board for four years, I have worked closely with the former President Mr. Foster and with the current Principal and new President. Leo like many schools have taken their hits due to the economy; however, it continues to thrive with the support of the ALL alumni. Last year alone we raised over $500,000 to aid our families with tuition and books. Our test scores continue to raise above the expectations of the nay sayers. Before passing judgment on the doom you all call Leo High School, stop by and take a look at the great things going on inside the school. Our new President, Dan McGrath, is doing an excellent job. @Nextel, take another drive around the school. There are no abandoned houses around Leo. Leo has a well maintained parking lot to the north and west. A maintained boarded building to the east and rolls of homeowners to the south. Lastly, this information has yet to be verified according to sources that actually have a say in hiring a President for the school.

  • Hugh Glass

    What a jerk. For all his grandstanding and bluster, blaming the gun manufacturers and racism for the high crime in his neighborhood and demanding more money, this charletan continues to accomplish absolutely nothing. He has not reduced crime in his area one iota. He never will until he accepts that crimes are commited by criminals, not by guns and racism. I understand that Cardinal George needs to get Pfleger out, but how about a monestery with a vow of silence.

    • Richard Phillip Garza

      Other than criticizing the man (taking pot shots from a safe distance) I’ve yet to hear any credible suggestions nor solutions from anyone of Fr. Pflegers’ detractors to the many cogent social issues facing the people of St. Sabina Faith Community, whose make-up is not only exclusively Afro-American.
      If you have never had a face to face civil interaction with the good father then you buy everything the media throws at you. All you can determine is within the parameters of media sound-bites via news casts, This limits your perceptions of the man rendering the truth of your opinions to mere myopic speculation.

  • Brian Earner

    Leo doesn’t need a grandstander like Fr. Pfleger, they have a more than qualified president in Dan McGrath who is doing a fine job. Fr. Pfleger would drive more money away from Leo than he would bring in. Leo is financially stable because of the hard work and generosity of its dedicated Alumni that have supported the school regardless of the race of its students for years. Cardinal George should ship his problem elsewhere and let Leo men run Leo like they have been doing successfully for decades. Fr. Pfleger makes his own rules and has thumbed his nose at the archdiocesean authorities for years making a mockery of the Catholic Church, hardly a distraction Leo wants or needs.

  • Richard Garza

    Other than criticizing the man (taking pot shots from a safe distance) I’ve yet to hear any credible suggestions nor solutions from anyone of Fr. Pflegers’ detractors to the many cogent social issues facing the people of St. Sabina Faith Community, whose make-up is not only exclusively Afro-American.
    If you have never had a face to face civil interaction with the good father then you buy everything the media throws at you. All you can determine is within the parameters of media sound-bites via news casts, This limits your perceptions of the man rendering the truth of your opinions to mere myopic speculation.

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