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Cardinal Restores Father Pfleger At St. Sabina

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Father Michael Pfleger gets a warm welcome from parishioners of St. Sabina's on Friday. (CBS)

Father Michael Pfleger gets a warm welcome from parishioners of St. Sabina’s on Friday. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Francis Cardinal George on Friday announced that controversial priest Michael Pfleger has been “restored” as the pastor of St. Sabina.

George suspended the outspoken priest last month for threatening to leave the church if he were transferred from his longtime post at St. Sabina, a South Side parish of mostly African Americans. George and Pfleger indicated in written statements that Pfleger accepted the punishment and regretted his remarks, which he had made in a radio interview.

“I am personally pleased to restore Father Pfleger to his sacramental and pastoral ministry at St. Sabina and in the Archdiocese of Chicago,” George said in a written statement. “With him, I ask the Lord to bless him and the people he loves.”

Pfleger, who kept a low profile during his suspension, told CBS 2′s Kristyn Hartman that he is glad to be back.

“I’m grateful to be the pastor of St. Sabina,” Pfleger said as he arrived for a St. Sabina scholarship fund-raiser.

Earlier Friday, the priest in his own written statement, expressed remorse for his trouble with the Chicago Archdiocese.

“If my remarks in a radio interview seemed to be a threat to leave the priesthood, I am sorry. That was not my intention. I am committed to the priesthood and the Catholic Church,” Pfleger said in the statement.

Pfleger indicated that he is working on a long-term “transition” plan for St. Sabina, which will be submitted to the Archdiocese for approval in early December. Pfleger turns 62 this weekend, a few years shy of the retirement age for priests.

“What a great birthday present – the best in the world,” Pfleger told reporters.

St. Sabina parishioners expressed relief at the news Pfleger will again lead their church.

“We’re just really overwhelmed and glad that it’s all over,” Phil Hunter told CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez.

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