Cardinal: ‘Ball Really Is In (Pfleger’s) Corner Now’

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cardinal Francis George on Friday defended his decision to suspend St. Sabina Pastor Michael Pfleger, saying the maverick priest needs to consider the public comments he has made about separating from the Catholic Church if he is not allowed to stay at his South Side parish.

Pfleger said earlier this month he may start his own church if the Archdiocese moved forward with plans to transfer him to Leo High School. That brought this week’s rebuke from George, who suspended Pfleger in a letter and directed him to do some soul-searching about his identity as a priest.

“The move is not a question right now,” George told CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez at O’Hare Airport, as the Cardinal was leaving for Rome. “The question is his own identity as a Catholic priest. The move, that’s all moot. The question is far deeper than that. It’s a question of faith and the discipline of the priesthood. So, we’ll have to have a conversation.”

RELATED: George’s Order ‘Slap In Face’

George publicly released the letter, which also took Pfleger to task for the negative way he has portrayed the church — as trying to “remove” him from St. Sabina, which has a largely African-American congregation. The Cardinal says Pfleger privately had been open-minded about the possibility of assuming new duties.

“The letter was written respectfully so he would have something to think about, because the ball really is in his corner now,” George told Tellez. “And I wrote the letter because of his own comments.”

George also addressed criticisms from St. Sabina parishioners who have questioned the Cardinal’s actions. George said it is his job to deal with crises involving priests.

“I would hope (parishioners) would understand the necessity to ask the question about faith and life,” George said. “If I’m not responsible for priests, then why do you come to me when a priest has abused a child or when a priest has stolen some money? … You can’t have it both ways, can you? You can’t say I’m responsible for Catholic priests and then say, ‘Not in this case.’ ”

The Cardinal said he hopes parishioners do not leave St. Sabina.

Asked whether there is room for negotiations for Pfleger to stay in his current assignment, George responded:  “He’s still pastor of St. Sabina’s. I hope that we can clarify things and that his very effective ministry will be able to continue as a Catholic priest.”

For Pfleger’s part, he was keeping a low profile and declining to speak to local media.

“I choose not to (comment) right now. I’m in prayer,” Pfleger told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman as he left Friday evening. “We’re going to feed the homeless — that’s what it’s about.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts Reports

George was headed to Vatican City for beatification ceremonies honoring the late Pope John Paul II this weekend.

  • tc

    why ruin a good thing.just leave the man in his sorry i have been a catholic my whole life and have turned my back on dont need
    religion and man made rules to be close to god,im sorry i dont buy it.

    • Lori Trentanelli

      You don’t understand. Fr. Pfleger has broken with the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and has stated that he is above the promise of obedience he took.

      The parish property doesn’t belong to Pfleger, or to the people of St. Sabina. It belongs to the Catholic Church, which is ALL the Catholics; it is held in trust by the Cardinal as a corporation sole.

      • FlangeSqueal


        Pfleger has turned St Sabina’s into an urban version of a Baptist mega-church, complete with the silly faux-Afrikan accent he puts on when on the stage, and right on down to taking three hours to have his political “service” – they don’t even pretend to call what he does a “MASS.”

        Who is this Kimberley Lymore that has been identified to the media as an “Associate Minister”? In the Catholic Church, WE DON’T HAVE MINISTERS, and we don’t have woman as associate ANYTHING.

        Ever been to St Sabina’s ? Find the tabernacle. THERE ISN’T ONE.

        Check the plaques in the entryway, honoring the ‘men of God’ that have preached there – including Louis Farrakhan !

        Sorry, “father” Flaky – it’s time to GO !

    • Avg Joe

      Send him Packing, he’ nothing but a self seving creeep….all he cares about is him and jesse “boy” getting on tv do disgraceful acts…kick this goon out, who knows what he’s doing to kids over there…yyou knw how them preist are!!
      this wanna be black guy is about the only thing loiue frarkan is true …he’s a blue eyed devil….let him take the tribe, gang bangers and buy jonestown in guyan…heck even the kool aid vats are still out for him and his sheep…
      kick this disgraced priest out, ever go to a service…hooting ,howlong, jumping,…like a voodoo dance…

  • Wallie

    Those public comments may be it was a slip of the tongue. So, forgive him and send him back to St. Sabina. We all know that the Catholic Church is very strict about the cellibacy and obedience to its higher ups. But when a priest is doing his job properly and serving God and his community the right way then he should stay.
    He certainly should be commended for what he is done and instead of kicking him out give him some gift. A Holy Bible, or a ticket to see the beatification of John Paul II. May be father Pfleger will become the next saint.
    Do not expect him walking on the water… just see what he has done for millions of souls that need Jesus in their hearts.

    • Lori Trentanelli

      Disobedient priests are generally not canonized.

    • DML

      It could be a slip of the tongue, except… he made the SAME comments a few years ago when confronted with the issue of moving. I said back then that he was NOT a Catholic priest with an attitude like that; I’m glad that, now that he’s made the SAME comments, Cardinal George agrees!

    • Philip J. Wayne

      I have listened to Pfleger and he is a Wolf in Sheep;s Clothing….St. Sabina’s …wake up and understand this man is a manipulator…..Christ should be the center of attention…not him.

    • Captain America

      or…the next one caught doing something to kids…saint my rear…this swine is nothing as soon as a TV camrea shows up the bus loaded with welfare queens show on Q,,,and this goon is on TV…go away, jesus didn’t wait till the press showed up….throw this devil in the alley, nothing but a demon he is!!!!

  • Woohoo

    When the personality becomes bigger than the word of god it’s time for him to go.

  • Roman

    He’s always enjoyed grandstanding like some other Chicago religious leaders.
    Now that he’s been called on it, there’s whining.
    You have to man up, and take it. No exceptions.

  • Maurice Sharpe

    For years the Church has tried to get rid of Pfleger. Cardinal Bernadin was a pastoral leader and felt that the good of the flock superceded the whishes of prideful leaders. Cardinal Geroge is a political pastor and serves man, not the good of the peoples’ spirit. The presidency of Leo was just a way to get him out. Move him there and close the school next year.

    • DML

      For years Phleger has made himself more important than the Church he’s supposed to serve, and has tried to elevate himself to the status of a god. His faithful minions are all too eager to worship him, instead of worshipping Christ.

      You don’t know Cardinal George. He could’ve done this YEARS ago when Mr. Phleger (I can’t even call him “father” – he is NOT a Catholic priest!) made the SAME comments, essentially threatening to take his ball and bat (AKA, his minions who worship him) and walk away from the Catholic Church that he CLAIMS to love (when it suits him to do so, that is), if he didn’t get his way.

      Face it, Phleger-worshippers, he is USING you as he uses everyone else. He has told the Cardinal that he doesn’t want to stay at your parish – but now that he can get his name in the media, he will claim that he doesn’t want to leave St. Sabina. Which is it, Mr. Phleger? Make up your mind.

    • Philip J. Wayne

      He needs to leave the priesthood….he is a bad priest.

  • Jacqueline Stingle

    Father Pfleger will be up for sainthood in many people’s hearts and minds. He has not ignored the abused. He has helped victims of unfortunate times and protected them from the abusers. The Catholic hiearchy can not see the good trees being so close to the fiorest. God help them!

    • Lori Trentanelli

      Pfleger has put himself above the promises he made when he was ordained.

    • DML

      Sainthood – why? He’s already a god to the minions who worship him at St. Sabina. He’s above God and Jesus Christ himself. Why take a step down to sainthood?

      By the way, he will NEVER be a saint, because he is not a holy man. He is self-serving, manipulative, and given that he is so eager to leave the priesthood, NOT a Catholic, either.

  • Richard B.

    They don’t have it both ways. the Cardinal is wrong. And really when a parish did come to him before about a priest abusing children he did nothing about it. the priest was to be arrested when the Cardinal transferred him. He may not be for the cathlic church but id he moves him, St Sabina is definitely dead. If he decides to pastor a church of his own, the parishoners are leaving with him.

    • Christian

      Spoken like a true follower of the Catholic faith.(Or just a ‘follower’?)

  • Padre pat

    Pflger is a joke.if he wants to get political start paying taxes.he is no different then any other priest,when your term is up in your parish you must leave,not grandstand and disrespect your church.get on with the work of god….

  • Gus George Baseleon

    Father George You Have to take care of the Pedifiles in the church and leave Father Phleger alone . That is why my chidren ,grandchildren, great children have lost faith in the catholic church Even thou they took thier communion ,confermation Etc . they our convenced the church is a cover up for pedifiles and not for the good of the church as Father Pleiger..Why ,Feed Educate House,transport and retire pedifiles at our expense for the church when we have great preist like Father Ppleiger to take up the positive cause of the church.

    • DML

      I can see that you’re as irreverant as the so-called priest you worship as your god. If you were not, you would realize that it is CARDINAL George, and he should be respectfully addressed as that, or as Your Eminence.

      But the only one you want to worship is Mr. Phleger, who has made himself a god to the people of St. Sabina.

  • Laurie

    My son was devastated last summer as we said goodbye to our Pastor. We loved him – he stood by our school children, and supported a very multicultural parish that was on the brink of closing when he arrived. But he was asked to take another position – so he did. It’s what he vowed to do when he became a priest. If Fr. Mike and the parishioners of St. Sabina think they are the only ones who don’t have to follow the rules, I would ask,Why? Why is your priest the exception? Why do you get a say? Why are you set apart? Why are the needs of your parish more important than the needs of mine? Or of the whole archdiocese? Don’t you think anyone else deserves this amazing priest?

  • Lidia

    My Dear God, how could anyone mix Fr.Pfleger issue with priests abusing children or church money. Cardinal George, please, watch your words. Fr. Pfleger is a Saint and you know that, we all know that. There should be more priests like Fr.Pfleger!

  • Raymond Prudente

    Fr. Mike was an anti-crime crusader and fearless church leader. He transformed St. Sabina community closer to Jesus. But our political leaders and government are corrupt, abusive, inefficient, lovers of power and money with no political will to fight and solve corruption, fraud, injustice, the killings of hundred of innocent children because of drugs and gun violence… and catholic church hierarchy is silent about widespread sexual abuse by priests and extensive cover-up. Clergy sexual abuses with no accountability is more than a passing storm issue. The abuse crisis in the U.S. showed a pattern of Bishops covering for erratic clerics. moving from parish to parish. Removal from active ministry does not protect our children.They should be monitored, investigated, suspended and prosecuted.

    When Fr. Pfleger asked his people to come out in the streets to help halt the sale of drugs, they came and more than 300 attended. When he proposed that St. Sabina School test students for drug use, 200 parents indicated immediate approval (with only four objection). But he received hundreds of anonymous threatening phone calls in putting crimp in the drug business.

    Dr. Martin Luther King became a kind of obsession for young Pfleger that he decided to be a priest–“Because as he saw it, the church can be the element for change.” In college he learned first hand about poverty and violence, and witnessed how unresponsive the city and people in power can be. After serving 40 years of ministry and 30 years at St. Sabina Fr. Mike will ultimately accept Cardinal George’s suspension order.

  • Yalow

    Making him a saint. He is the one for the people to decide. This man is a man of God.

  • Father Suck'em Off

    Now is the time for all litle boys and girls to come forth IF he did any thing to you, the demon is gonee;would be nice to lock him up with the other child molesting priest….will anyone come forth with a lawyer contct SNAP …let’s rid the world of lowlifes.

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