US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Pfleger, George, and now bloggers weigh in

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A public debate about Father Pfleger's future is not what is best for for St. Sabina's community, says the priest's biographer.

Guest blog post by Robert McClory

There is an interesting interplay in two articles on a page in the May 9 Chicago Tribune. The top article concerns the unveiling of a memorial wall at St. Sabina church for children killed by gunfire. Many mothers wept and prayed, holding  pictures of their lost sons or daughters as Father Michael Pfleger offered words of consolation. The article below was a mini Q&A with Cardinal Francis George about his new book, God in Action. It's not clear the Tribune was making the point that here is someone doing God's action and another talking about it, but readers were free to draw their own conclusions.

Hopefully, reason and hope will prevail when George, now back from John Paul II's beatification, and Pfleger meet again. George's suspension of Pfleger was based on what the cardinal thought Pfleger had said on a radio show. In fact, Pfleger said something quite different. Regardless, Pfleger's crime was that he did say that under certain circumstances, he might leave the priesthood and seek ministry in another (non-Catholic) church. And that is what really rankled George.

What should a leader do when one of his most successful representatives suggests such a thing? In George's judgment in this case, it was to sit down, write an angry, threatening letter, and send it to the media and to all the priests in the archdiocese before Pfleger was even aware it existed. He then handed it to the priest, refused to discuss the contents with him or the media and flew off to Rome a day and a half later.

Such impulsive actions are not helpful to the Chicago Catholic community. Nor, it must be admitted, are Pfleger's threats to leave helpful to the community. For the good of the people, the two of them must work this out, so that the blessed reality that is St. Sabina remains intact. 

Meanwhile, it would be especially helpful if the hordes of Catholics and bloggers who have never visited St. Sabina or driven around the neighborhood, never talked to Pfleger or listened to one of his sermons, never met or conversed with Sabina parishioners would just shut up and stop bloviating on a subject they know nothing about.  


Robert McClory is author of Radical Disciple: Father Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina Church and the Fight for Social Justice (Lawrence Hill, 2010). He is also professor emeritus at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a regular contributor to U.S. Catholic.

Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.