Pfleger Tells Journalism Students He Loves His Job

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Rev. Michael Pfleger has not spoken with the mainstream media about his suspension this week, but he did open up about it to some Columbia College journalism students.

As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, Pfleger reportedly has been on the St. Sabina campus. He hasn’t made any appearances, but the journalism students spoke with him before a protest in his name Thursday.

“You could tell that what’s been going on in the last 24 hours has really been taking a toll on him,” said Columbia journalism student Cassandra Norris. “He was shell-shocked. That was basically his feelings. He was not expecting to be suspended, and that’s the extent of his comments on that.”

RELATED: Pfleger Speaks Out, By Cassandra Norris

Norris and her classmates had an appointment with Pfleger at St. Sabina before the suspension. Pfleger did not cancel.

Cassandra Norris

Columbia College student journalist Cassandra Norris is one of the only reporters to talk to the Rev. Michael Pfleger since his suspension. (Credit: CBS)

Francis Cardinal George issued a letter to Pfleger on Wednesday, announcing that he was to be suspended for his comments in which he talked about leaving the Catholic Church if he was transferred from the St. Sabina pastorship to a post at the helm of nearby Leo High School.

Cardinal George is now in Rome for the beatification ceremonies of Pope John Paul II.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine, who is in Rome, reports that Cardinal George is expected to meet with Chicago reporters at least twice over the next four days. But a spokesman said the Cardinal will not answer any questions about the Pfleger controversy.

In the letter Wednesday, George said, “Your ministry as pastor of St. Sabina and your sacramental faculties as a priest of the Archdiocese are suspended.”

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.

“Our private conversation was misrepresented publicly as an attempt to ‘remove’ you from Saint Sabina’s,” George wrote. “You know that priests in the Archdiocese are ‘removed’ only because they have been found to have sexually abused a minor child or are guilty of financial malfeasance.”


Earlier this month, Pfleger told the public radio program “Smiley and West” that if it came to a choice to become president of Leo High School, to become pastor of another Catholic church, or to leave the church, he would look at the third option.

“I want to try to stay in the Catholic Church. If they say, ‘You either take this principalship at the high school or the pastorship there, or leave, then I have to look outside the church,” he said.

George responded in the letter, “If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and therefore are not able to pastor a Catholic parish.”

George also said in the letter, “To avoid misrepresentation… this letter will be released to the parish… and to the media after it has been delivered to you.”

But on Wednesday night, Pfleger said that did not happen. He told parishioners, “At 4:30 this afternoon, I found out from the media that I was suspended.”

He said the same to the Columbia students.

“The media knew before he did. That’s all he told us,” Norris said.

In her article for the campus paper, Norris said she will include comments Pfleger made that “he loves his job. He is first and foremost a priest.”

  • Scott Knitter

    He may indeed love his job, but part of his job is the fact that bishops reassign pastors from time to time. His job doesn’t include a lifelong claim on one parish.

  • Stewart Smith

    He(Rev. Pfleger) is a man driven by his need to be effective and make things better for his People. There is no room in the Catholic Church for a man of such zeal…He should have been a Baptist. He would be appreciated.

    • Native Chicagoan

      Great letter by Cardinal George. It sheds a wonderful light on this entire issue. Glad it was openly published.

  • Philip J. Wayne

    I knew this guy personally and Michael Fleger is a cult figure at St. Sabina’s…a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing….he is a vindictive…self centered individual….who manipulates his people without them knowing it……He should leave the priesthood.

  • Columba

    This priest is very effective in the service of Almighty God. Being a Presbiterian or a Methodist of Catholic does not mean you have to be effective in your chiurch inner cyrcle but to serve your fellow human being. He should be where he is and instead of being kicked out he should be promoted to Rome and to serve the large community of believers.
    Do you really think that God is gona ask you what religion you belong? Or what race are you? In Heaven above you will answer for what you have done for others and if you really loved God with all your heart.

  • Isa Belle

    Philip you must be a cult follower because you know all about cults. May be you are one of the Jim Jones survivors who think that father Pflegger is the same as the others. Well, he is not. No one died or drunk poison while the 30 years passed. Many were saved, santified and glorified by God himself through the work of this wonderful person. So, thin k before you speak. He should obey the bishops? and the Pope? Of couse he is. Father Pfleger is doing the will of God and because of that he is being punished. Would he reconsidre his decision?
    What the pope would say about this issue?

    • Native Chicagoan

      My understanding is that the Cardinal can move priests around. But, Rev. Pfleger has been there for 30 years, and he got extensions which many other priests did not get. Although Pfleger appears to feel indignation, he just needs to decide, finally, if he wants to continue his life on earth as an ordained Catholic Priest, beholden to his Cardinal directives and wishes, or leave the priesthood and stay on and live in the parish of St. Sabina. Perhaps work as a teacher or stay involved in the parish and get a job teaching or community services, find an apartment, a place to live. It is actually very simple. Emotions aside, he refuses to think clearly about who he is and what his future or legacy will ultimately be, and instead he is making a mountain out of a molehill and having tamtrums about having been told what to do. Sorry, Father Pfleger, it is decision time. Humans make hard decisions everyday.

  • Right

    Pfleger, like many blacks, thinks that it is all about him. Without the support of the Archdiocese, his church would be nothing.

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  • Natasha

    yes the rev has done alot for his parish but i do feel that his time there is up he has been there for thrity years you have done what you can if hes as good as his followers say then they know he can go down the street and help that school like he has helped them. everyone needs change if the chruch feels they cant go on with out him than it is like a cult. i think he should be suspenede maybe itll given him time to look at the bigger picture the people of the chruch and not himself

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