Pfleger Stays In Background At Sunday Services

CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s been a week of controversy for St. Sabina Catholic Church on the South Side, but on Sunday parishioners raised their voices in song and prayer under the watchful eye of their embattled pastor, Rev. Michael Pfleger.

As CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports, it was a mixture of tears, applause and smiles in the sanctuary Sunday morning.

Most of the congregation probably had no idea Pfleger was watching from the back of the room.

Church members said it’s normal for him to at least say a few words on Youth Sunday, but this Sunday, to the public, he remained silent.

He appeared in a doorway during the service. Those who couldn’t see Father Pfleger said they could feel his presence in Sunday’s 10 a.m. service at St. Sabina.

And the youth who did catch a glimpse of him called his appearance an inspiration.

“I gave him a brief hug, I didn’t really get to talk to him,” Jonathan Travis, 17, said. “He’s a very strong person and I felt a sense of comfort, because if he’s alright, I know we’re going to be alright.”

Pfleger was suspended last week and chose not to speak or make a public appearance at the Youth Sunday service.

At times, you could see him praying. At other times, he was beaming with pride at the sight of all the young parishioners he’s guided, as they showcased their commitment to their faith and to their church.

“I couldn’t really judge where his mood was. I can tell he’s very mixed emotions,” youth minister Cinque Culler said.

Parish council chair Isadore Glover said Sunday was about celebrating the kids at St. Sabina.

“That’s what this is all about, developing the youth, and this is all a part of what Father Mike has been able to do here,” Glover said.

It’s work even those outside the parish respect.

Gwendolyn Meeks drafted an open letter to Cardinal Francis George, urging him to end Pfleger’s suspension.

“Even those who don’t go to church can see the good that Father Pfleger is doing in the community. He’s a standup guy,” she said.

Supporters marched in silence around St. Sabina after Sunday morning’s service. They called taking Pfleger away from the ministry unfair.

Earlier this year, Cardinal George asked Pfleger to consider taking over as president of nearby Leo High School after serving at St. Sabina for 30 years – far longer than the 12 years most priests typically serve at one parish.

After Pfleger said that he’d consider leaving the Catholic Church if he couldn’t stay at St. Sabina, the cardinal suspended Pfleger.

“The cardinal asked him to go to St. Leo. And he asked him to respond, which he did do in a letter to the cardinal,” Glover said. “And this whole suspension thing comes as a significant surprise to all of us here at the faith community.”

Members of the parish council said they still hope the cardinal will have a change of heart and they hope he and Pfleger will be able to sit down for a good talk when the cardinal returns from Rome, where he is attending the beatification of Pope John Paul II.

  • Erinn

    You see… father is praying for you all. To be saved, santified and glorified by God himself. He is not gone. He is right here. He did not leave the Catholic Church like so many did or fall out of religion altogether and then feel so depressed and become alcoholic because your heart is so emply.
    God is in control. Keep praying and loving God and your fellow man and you will be OK
    God bless father Pfleger Keep praying for us all.

  • srdib

    what drama queen! how convenient that he “hid” in a spot that the new the cameras could see him from. what dog and pony show he is putting on. why didint he just come out and do a couple of back flips. sure will be glad when this is over. this guy is such a phony. trust me, all the parishioners knew he was there for the photo op’s. he can not stay out of the spotlight. be gone already you phony.

  • Peace and Social

    I think it is unfortunate that Cardinal George is treating Father Pleger this way. Cardinal George needs to look at his motives for this decision and see how it is impacting Catholic believers everywhere.

  • Thaddeus C. Budzynski

    I feel for Father Michael Pfleger and the people at Saint Sabina’s. The biggest mistake Father Pfleger made was getting too attached with the people in the congregation. He should be their minister, not their friends. When he decided to be a priest, he was told that he will be moved from one parish to another instead of spending his whole life as a priest in one church. The bible says that we all should “move on” and Father Pfleger should of done this a long time ago. What Father Pfleger should be doing is, “LET GO AND LET GOD” take over Saint Sabina’s. Father Pfleger should be sharing his ministries at other catholic parishes, instead of threatening that he’ll quit the ministry if he’s forced out of Saint Sabina’s. Whatever happens to Father Pfleger, he should accept the punishment the cardinal and the bishop gave him. Father Pfleger, you did this to yourself.

  • Raymond Prudente

    4,450 of the 110,00 Roman Catholic clergy have been accused of widespread sexual molestation of children. Across the country thousands of victims are still reporting the abuse. In August of 2008, Chicago Roman Catholic Archdiocese announced it would pay $12.7 million to settle 16 claims of sexual abuse involving former priests and a school principal. The Chicago church under the leadership of Cardinal George has settled more than 100 cases.

    Sexual abuse of children and youth are generally the most heinous. When the abuse is a clergy who is expected to act at the highest spiritual and moral level the people is distressed and demoralized. Such abuse represents a gross violation of trust and a massive misuse of human sexuality by a perpetrator who is supposed to be among the most trustworthy. Cardinal George is silent about the matter and failed to monitor, investigate, suspend and punished abusive priests. He has the moral obligation that this problem exists and to deal openly with the public about the nature and extent of the problem. They sacrificed innocent children for many, many years. But Cardinals and Bishops continued to support and conceal child molestation for decades. Cardinal George should resigned or been removed over this. It won’t happen. Every clergy take an oath of celibacy and every clergy who is involved violates that oath.

    Driving of money changers out of the temple premises, Jesus fashioned a whip out of Lords and drove the “Bad Guys” out of the premises and He had every right to say that His Father’s House was not meant to be marketplace. Like Jesus, Cardinal George had the right to suspend and punished “Pedophiles.” While Church hierarchy have been vocal against it others have largely remained silent. This is not only a matter of justice it is a matter of protecting our children.

    When God sends men He always sends the right kind. Fr. Pfleger more than 30 years at St. Sabina was not only his unfinished task but the always unfinished task of serving the community and articulating Christ’s Gospel. God is with you and we will be praying for you. You are never alone Fr. Mike and God bless you.

  • Sister in Jesus

    God has more great plans for this man. Let him be. He has dedicated his life to the church for the love of God.

  • jmurray544

    Both men are at fault, and both claim to be promoting Gospel Values, yet all I see as a result of this is more pain for the Mystical Body of Christ at St. Sabina’s, and indeed around the Archdiocese.. Both individuals claim to be mature adults, yet both seem to be locked into their egos. It is time to stop using the media to communicate to each other

    It is way past the time for some serious dialog between these two men of faith.

  • Brian

    Why doesn’t the media talk to Fr. Michael Pfleger’s mother ? His own mother thinks he is a disgrace.

  • Congregants Gather To Pray For Pfleger’s Reinstatement « CBS Chicago

    […] This past Sunday, he was absent from his usual post at the pulpit, instead watching from the back of… […]

  • 7 Suspended Altogether Blogs | Tweet Gazette

    […] Pfleger Stays In Background At Sunday Services CBS ChicagoAfter Pfleger said that he'd consider leaving the Catholic Church if he couldn't stay at St. Sabina, the cardinal suspended Pfleger. The cardinal asked him to go to St. Leo. And he asked him to respond, which he did do in a letter to … He did not leave the Catholic Church like so many did or fall out of religion altogether and then feel so depressed and become alcoholic because your heart is so emply. God is in control. Keep praying and loving God and your fellow man … […]

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