CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) — Mayor Richard M. Daley won’t say anything about the differences between the Rev. Michael Pfleger and Francis Cardinal George, but he praises the suspended priest.
“Father Pfleger’s a personal friend of mine, and an activist in our community about gun violence; about misuse of guns, and supporting gun legislation in Springfield and Washington, D.C.; marches; talking to people who’ve lost loved ones. He’s been at the forefront,” Daley said. “He’s been a wonderful priest; a wonderful friend to many people.”
Cardinal George suspended Pfleger from his pastoral duties at St. Sabina Church in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, following comments he made about a possible reassignment to nearby Leo high School.
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 announcing Pfleger’s suspension, “If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and therefore are not able to pastor a Catholic parish.”
On Wednesday, parishioners at St. Sabina took out a full-page ad in the Chicago Sun-Times protesting the move. The ad, headlined “Setting the Record Straight”, features a full-page letter in which church members take offense at not being given an opportunity to share their concerns with Cardinal George.
And the provocative questions, include, “Are we disrespected because we are in the black community on 79th and Racine?”
Church members want to stress that no church money was used to pay for the ad, which according to the rates at the Sun-Times website, would have been between $7,500 and $12,000.