CHICAGO (CBS) — Caught in the middle of the feud between suspended St. Sabina Pastor Michael Pfleger and Cardinal George is one of the priests assigned to fill the gaps in Pfleger’s absence.
CBS 2’s Suzanne LeMignot talked with Father Andrew Smith, and he had some pretty strong words about his new role.
“I have my reservations,” a candid Smith said about Cardinal George’s decision to appoint him to St. Sabina Church to assist the current associate pastor. “I don’t want to go. I love it here [at St. Ailbe’s]. But I was ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
“The church says we have to take a vow of obedience. When the Cardinal says go. You’ve got to go.”
Smith’s move from St. Ailbe’s parish to St. Sabina comes after Father Michael Pfleger was suspended by George on Wednesday.
The cardinal took particular issue with Pfleger’s repeated statements in both local and national media that George was trying to remove him from St. Sabina and transfer him to Leo High School as president. Pfleger has been feuding with George about plans to transfer him from St. Sabina.
Pfleger has been at St. Sabina for 36 years. The average tenure of a priest before being transferred to another church in Chicago, is six years.
Smith will be assisting Rev. Thulani Magwaza, who is the associate pastor at St. Sabina.
“When we preach the good news, we preach the good news,” Smith said. “It’s not about me. It’s not about Mike Pfleger. The church is Jesus Christ’s church.”
“It’s not about building a kingdom or a cult where people just follow you. … I’m not saying [Pfleger’s] doing that but he’s been there so long, that’s why we have this situation now and understandably, people are hurt. They’ve got the right to be hurt. He’s been there. He’s done a lot of great things.”
Smith, a former Chicago cop, says what bothers him the most, are what he calls all the misrepresentations.
“I spent 10 years in the police department so I want to tell everybody, the people of Chicago, I ain’t no joke. I ain’t your punk, I ain’t your pawn, I ain’t no sissy. I come here to proclaim the good news.”