CHICAGO (CBS) — The Rev. Michael Pfleger says if he cannot preach at St. Sabina Church, he will start preaching elsewhere.
Pfleger has been suspended from his post at the Roman Catholic church in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood where he has preached for 30 years.
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He now says if he is not reinstated by next weekend, he will begin preaching at other churches.
He says he has already received offers from all around the country.
But the Chicago Tribune reported Pfleger still does not want to leave St. Sabina, and will only leave if he is expelled, or if he believes God wants him to go elsewhere. He choked back tears as he called the situation “very painful,” the Tribune reported.
St Sabina issued the following statement on Wednesday morning: “Last night a Chicago Tribune reporter chose to disrespect the closed meeting of St. Sabina Church parishioners with their pastor, Fr. Michael Pfleger, obviously with an agenda. No one knew the reporter was present.
“A report was then put out as if Fr. Pfleger gave some kind of ultimatum that if the suspension continued beyond this weekend he would preach at other churches. That is completely false.
“The truth is that while responding to a question from a parishioner as to whether he would be speaking or preaching anywhere; Fr. Pfleger responded that he missed preaching and had received a number of invitations to preach at other churches and would probably begin to accept some if unable to preach at this time at St. Sabina.”
Francis Cardinal George suspended Pfleger from his pastoral duties at St. Sabina last month, following comments he made about a possible reassignment to nearby Leo high School.
In early April, 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.”
The Archdiocese sent a new priest, Andrew Smith, to help at St. Sabina after Pfleger’s suspension was announced.