Cardinal Still Mum On Controversy Over Pfleger’s Future

CHICAGO (CBS) — New voices have begun to join in the debate over whether Rev. Michael Pfleger should remain at St. Sabina Church or move to a nearby Catholic high school. But Francis Cardinal George still isn’t saying whether he’ll make the move.

Father Pfleger has been at St. Sabina for 30 years, far longer than priests are normally allowed to stay at one parish.

CBS 2 Correspondent Jay Levine broke the story last week about the cardinal’s push to transfer Pfleger to Leo High School. He has new details on the continuing controversy.

So far, Cardinal George has refused to speak publicly about Pfleger’s future and he did so again on Thursday when asked about it.

But the longer Pfleger remains in limbo, the more voices are joining the debate.

On Thursday, Cardinal George presided over an unprecedented gathering of students from Catholic high schools throughout Chicago and its suburbs.

Students gave up part of their spring break to join him in prayer at Holy Name Cathedral.

Among the students the Cardinal greeted afterward were several young men from Leo High School, where the cardinal wants Pfleger to take over as school president.

Leo faculty member Velma Smith said the cardinal has spoken to her about the Pfleger controversy.

“It was amazing that he stopped in the middle of all the people and said that it was unfortunate the way it came out and I agreed with him,” Smith said.

The Cardinal was less than anxious to speak with reporters about the controversy and he declined to answer questions about Pfleger’s status.

He declined to say anything when asked whether it was time for Pfleger to leave St. Sabina.

A group of ministers, including some who met recently with Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, clearly doesn’t think Pfleger should leave St. Sabina, as they have planned to hold a rally in support of Pfleger on Friday.

“Father Mike has stood with the community for more than 30-years,” Rev. Tyrone Crider, pastor of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, said Thursday. “We want to stand with him in the time of this challenge to his ministry.”

Right after the school mass, there was a rally at Leo High School; a show of pride and determination at a school hurt by the implication that Pfleger was being brought in to rescue a failing institution.

Leo supporters said the school has already launched a comeback from years of declining enrollment.

Asked if Pfleger would be a welcome addition at Leo High School, Smith said “I don’t think we have a choice in this. Of course, we are very intelligent people over there at Leo and we would welcome Father Pfleger, but it’s not our decision.”

“We have to go on. Our main goal is to educate our children and make sure they are prepared to be young men of the future,” Smith added.

Leo’s faculty has given the impression they’re doing just fine without Pfleger.

Other priests, who preferred to remain anonymous, said they think the cardinal should just leave Pfleger where he is.

The Cardinal maintains that term limits – either six , or at the most, 12 years – are set by a council of priests. In the end, the cardinal himself has the final say on where Pfleger will be assigned.

  • The Real Avg Joe

    Very intelligent comment. Next time check your facts and do a spell check racist goofy.

    • Captain America

      real avg. joe….bet you were molested by a priest …come on tell us ….

  • jeerry

    It is sad the cardinal lacks the courage to make a decision about this miserable excuse for a priest–he belongs in a parish of about 7 or 8 people–Pfleger is one of the reasons the church is losing catholic attendance,bet on it.


      he knows that “farther mike” is going to play the race card really hard on this….might even break away and take the cult down to jonestown and start mixing the kool-aid…….then the church won’t get no more cash from that area, close them down and some black store front preacher will buy it … free of coures….kick him out who runs the church?….?

  • Hirsty

    Father Fhlegger s church is full and alive and well served by this wonderful pastor. It seems that everyone likes him and that is one reason Cardinal George cannot make up his mind. Take him out of St. Sabina and loose parishioners or keep him right there where he is needed.
    The only problem is St. Sabina looks and sounds like a Pentecostal Holy Spirit Church. It is more protestant than Catholic itself.
    Judge for yourself. Should we say the rosary every Sunday or Cast evil spirits through the Holy Ghost.

  • Anthony Michael

    Jeerry, if that is the correct spelling of your name, I feel you are speaking to this issue without sensitivity to the feelings of the people concern or the good of the arch-diocese who could be obsessed with the rule of dis/obedience.
    I Live on the Southside, I have seen catholic parishes and churches closed. Father Pfleger’s has survived. I have seen pastors working in Museums, empty monuments called churches; Father Pfleger is working with and for human beings.
    I fear what may happen to St. Sabina should Father Pfleger die (he is not growing younger.. I suggest that Father Pfleger and the Arch diocese approach the future of St. Sabina the way the non-catholic churches handle the replacement of their charismatic pastors. Find a person with the same charisma to understudy him and in future replace him.
    But if the arch diocese wants the death of St. Sabina, tear off its heart.

  • Sam

    Is there any other Catholic church in the Chicago area that has had one priest in charge for 30 years?

  • bill

    Father pfleger needs to be sent overseas to somolia as a missionary, he is a disgrace to the catholic church

  • justin

    Catholic Church in the black neighborhood needs more than Hail Mary but the spirit that moves the hail mary. Pfleger ensures that as a community pastor.

  • dee

    he is NOT A PRIEST he is daleys guy for just news and people in the hood with out something to add to the city forget leo send him and jessie/jr to somolia SEE YA

    • tonmike

      He is a father not just a priest.

      • Buster

        All priests are called Father.

  • Vivian

    @Jeery, Bill and Dee you guys have no idea what you are talking about…I am a Baptist who grew up in the community Father Mike serves my parents still live there..he is a wonderful person who always put others before himself…even though I am a Baptist I still give money to St. Sabina because of Father Mikes good work and I participate in rallies and other meetings that effect my community…until you understand that community keep your comments to yourself….@Captain America your comment was not called for and “FYI” all Preist do not molest children…

  • Buster

    Why has Father Mike been allowed to call his own shots for so long? All of the other priests obey. Maybe the Pope needs to get involved…obey or leave the church!

  • Angered

    How about all the good that happened at the Cathedral today??? No where does it say that 900 high school students came to pray together, and vocations were born. Everyone seems to forget that about the high school students that came to pray together at Holy Name

  • Vivian

    @Buster I agree to a certain extent, Father Mike has been at St. Sabina for over 30yrs and the Archdiocese should have enforced there rules long along…but since they didn’t I feel it would be wrong to come along and try and force this man out after so many years…St. Sabina is his home and the whole community is his family and as family we will stand with him….

  • Buster

    I tried to find their bulletins on their website. Nothing seems available. I’d be interested to know if they have a schoo to support. Also, how much are their weekly Sunday donations? Is the parish self-sufficient or does it have to be subsidized?

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