Cardinal Cupich rebukes Father Pfleger for Louis Farrakhan event

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Cardinal Blase Cupich rebuked Father Michael Pfleger in a statement Friday evening for his event hosting Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan at St. Sabina Church Thursday night.

Pfleger invited Farrakhan to speak at St. Sabina a week after he was permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram that the platform deemed hateful and even dangerous.

Farrakhan spoke for about an hour to a standing room only audience. Many in the church streamed his remarks live on Facebook.

"Without consulting me, Fr. Michael Pfleger invited Minister Louis Farrakhan to speak at St. Sabina Church in response to Facebook's decision to ban him from its platforms," Cupich said in a statement.

RELATED: Louis Farrakhan speaks at St. Sabina church at invitation of Father Michael Pfleger

The statement continued, "Minister Farrakhan could have taken the opportunity to deliver a unifying message of God's love for all his children. Instead, he repeatedly smeared the Jewish people, using a combination of thinly veiled discriminatory rhetoric and outright slander."

Cupich condemned what he called repeated smears of "the Jewish people, using a combination of thinly veiled discriminatory rhetoric and outright slander."

"He said there were good Jews and there are bad Jews, true. There are good Catholics and bad Catholics," Pfleger said Friday. "I'm doing what I believe the Gospel calls me to do and continue to try and bring people together and try to speak truth."

But Cupich saw it differently, writing, "Antisemetic rhetoric - discriminatory invective of any kind - has no place in American public life, let alone in a Catholic Church."

Since last night's speech, the local Jewish community and a Los Angeles=based human rights organization have publicly denounced Pfleger.

"I think that Jesus said in the scriptures, that leave judgement to the Father. Leave judgement to the Father," Pfleger said.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum invited Father Pfleger to meet with leadership and survivors. Friday he said he gladly accepts the invitation and sees this back and forth as a way to open dialogue between different groups

CARDINAL CUPICH'S FULL STATEMENT

Without consulting me, Fr. Michael Pfleger invited Minister Louis Farrakhan to speak at St. Sabina Church in response to Facebook's decision to ban him from its platforms. Minister Farrakhan could have taken the opportunity to deliver a unifying message of God's love for all his children. Instead, he repeatedly smeared the Jewish people, using a combination of thinly veiled discriminatory rhetoric and outright slander. He suggested that "Talmudic thought" sanctioned pedophilia and misogyny. He referred to Jewish people as "satanic," asserting that he was sent by God to separate the "good Jews" from the "satanic Jews."

Such statements shock the conscience. People of faith are called to live as signs of God's love for the whole human family, not to demonize any of its members. This is all the more true of religious leaders, who have a sacred duty never to leverage the legitimacy of their ministry to heap blame upon a group of persons, and never to deploy inflammatory rhetoric, long proven to incite violence. Antisemitic rhetoric - discriminatory invective of any kind - has no place in American public life, let alone in a Catholic church. I apologize to my Jewish brothers and sisters, whose friendship I treasure, from whom I learn so much, and whose covenant with God remains eternal.

I encourage Fr. Pfleger to accept the invitation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center to meet with their leadership and dialogue with survivors. And I pledge to continue our work with our city's religious leaders and all people of good will to promote tolerance, respect, and nonviolence. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Hate is too great a burden to bear."
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