Archdiocese reinstates Rev. Pfleger to St. Sabina

May 21, 2011 7:23:10 AM PDT
Francis Cardinal George has reinstated Father Michael Pfleger to his post at St. Sabina Church.

The announcement came following a meeting Friday afternoon between Father Pfleger and Cardinal George.

The outspoken pastor was suspended last month after making comments on Tavis Smiley's radio show about leaving the Catholic Church rather than being removed from St. Sabina.

When Cardinal George suspended Father Pfleger on April 27 he told Father Pfleger to take a few weeks to pray and think about his past statements as well as his future. Those few weeks have passed and so has the apparent rift.

"I am a prisoner of hope and I'm grateful, I'm just very grateful. I'm very thankful. It's so great to be back with my family," Father Pfleger said at a St. Sabina school fundraiser Friday night.

"I thought the comments he made were misconstrued, taken out of context. I can understand how some might have been off-put by his thinking out loud of his future with the Catholic Church," Smiley told ABC7.

It is a joyous time for St. Sabina parishioners. Father Pfleger has been the only pastor many parishioners have known at the church. Pfleger's suspension three weeks ago caused a rift between the church and the archdiocese that he is trying to repair.

Pfleger said in a statement Friday, "For the people of St. Sabina and the Church as a whole, I will do all in my power to foster healing for all."

"We're pleased, we're thankful that the cardinal and Father Pfleger could come to an accord, the pastor's suspension has been lifted and he has been reinstated to his full capacity," said St. Sabina parishioner Cory Williams.

"We saw it on the news. My mother said, 'I want to go outside and praise and thank the Lord for everything," said St. Sabina parishioner Wendy Wade. "But I always had the faith. I knew that Cardinal George was going to reinstate him back in."

Francis Cardinal George said he met with Father Pfleger Friday afternoon.

"Father Pfleger's statement, which he discussed with me, is a genuine step toward healing the hurt and clarifying the confusion," Cardinal George said in a statement.

The apparent compromise between the cardinal and Father Pfleger includes the priest's vows to toward the parish's future without him.

"I will prepare a transition plan for St. Sabina to present to the Cardinal and the Priests' Placement Board by December 1, 2011," said Pfleger in a statement.

Pfleger turns 62 years old on Sunday, and he will now be able to celebrate his birthday with parishioners. He is due to say Mass at St. Sabina at 11:15 a.m. that day.

STATEMENT OF FRANCIS CARDINAL GEORGE, O.M.I.
May 20, 2011

After the remarks Father Pfleger made on National Public Radio, which seemed to place himself outside the Church and constitute a threat to leave the Catholic priesthood, I asked Father Pfleger to take time to pray about his personal faith and his commitment to the Catholic priesthood. In the past month, Father Pfleger and I have discussed how the Church has been wounded and how necessary it is to find a way to heal the hurt and confusion.

Father Pfleger's statement, which he discussed with me, is a genuine step toward healing the hurt and clarifying the confusion.

Many people have been personally affected by these events, including the people of St. Sabina Parish, and I hope that our statements now will bring the peace necessary to strengthen the mission of the Church. I am personally pleased to restore Father Pfleger to his sacramental and pastoral ministry at St. Sabina and in the Archdiocese of Chicago. With him, I ask the Lord to bless him and the people he loves.

As Archbishop of this local Church, the Archdiocese of Chicago, I share with the auxiliary bishops and priests a particular responsibility for our unity in Christ. We rely upon Christ to heal us now and to guide

STATEMENT OF FATHER MICHAEL PFLEGER
May 20, 2011

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. I believe all who know me know well that I want to be a Catholic priest. I have spent the last 36 years of my life trying my best to preach the Gospel, be a voice for justice and the poor, and build up the Church.

In our conversations, Cardinal George and I recognized that the Church has been hurt, and this concerns us both. For the people of St. Sabina and the Church as a whole, I will do all in my power to foster healing for all. We trust in the healing power of God.

Cardinal George has asked, and I agree, that we move toward creating a plan of transition for the future of St. Sabina. In conversation with the people of St. Sabina and our Episcopal Vicar, Bishop Joseph Perry, I will prepare a transition plan for St. Sabina to present to the Cardinal and the Priests' Placement Board by December 1, 2011.

Cardinal George and I are committed to work together to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in his Body, the Church.


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