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Chicago Cardinal Orders Pfleger to Take Leave

By Kari Lydersen
Chicago's Rev. Michael Pfleger is no stranger to controversy. The flamboyant, passionate white pastor of a mostly African American South Side Catholic church has previously gained public acclaim and outrage for stunts including paying prostitutes to listen to scripture and erecting billboards decrying hip hop artists who degrade women.

But his guest sermon at the Obamas' former church finally took it too far in the eyes of Chicago Cardinal Francis George. George today asked Pfleger to take a leave of absence to ponder his May 25 statements at Sen. Barack Obama's former place of worship mocking Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Pfleger opposed the request of the Cardinal, who earlier had asked Pfleger to promise to not further discuss candidates by name.

"Fr. Pfleger does not believe this to be the right step at this time," said George in a statement. "While respecting his disagreement, I have nevertheless asked him to use this opportunity to reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of the Church's regulations for all Catholic priests. I hope that this period will also be a time away from the public spotlight and for rest and attention to family concerns."

Bloggers responded with a mix of love and hate, calling Pfleger a media-starved "white Jesse Jackson" who should have been ousted long ago, while others praised his devotion to civil rights and the African American community.

By Web Politics Editor  |  June 3, 2008; 9:30 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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Posted by: Nancy Barness | June 23, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Father Pfleger is supposed to be a man of the cloth preaching the word of the Lord. Unfortunately,he abandoned that duty and mixed in his political opinions while acting as a representative of the Catholic Church. His comments are entirely appropriate in a political setting, such as a political rally. In a church setting, however, his comments were inappropriate, offensive and immature. As a Roman Catholic, I was embarrassed and offended by his actions. If was the pastor of my church, I would find a different parish to attend.

Posted by: Tired of the Trinity Church | June 5, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

jeez, my post is full of grammatical errors -- how embarrassing. This little text box kind of makes me lose track of where the sentences are.

Posted by: nazcalito | June 4, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Carol Johnson is absolutely right. No action for years about the Father Molestos, and then the Church spirits off to monastaries outside the supoena range of the criminal courts, but when Pfleger has the audacity to make fun of an Important Person like Hillary Clinton, he's instantly suspended! Doesn't say much for the Catholic church.

re "Obamanation"'s excommunication suggestion, something like that actually happened to a local Dominican priest some years back, Matthew Fox, who got in trouble not for politics but for being a "heretic." Among other things, he updating Catholic Mass with New Age rituals from Native American and Wiccan religions (this is the SF Bay Area, after all.) In an interview after his "excommunication", Fox said he just walked down the street and got a job with the Episcopal church (which is sort of a refuge for defrocked Catholic priests.) Maybe Pfleger should quit the Church too, but he probably takes being a Catholic too seriously.

As far as Obama is concerned, the guy needs to find some kind of plain vanilla church where the preacher reads innocuous Dial-a-Prayer type sermons and where there's no live internet streaming. (Trinity got itself in trouble with its obsessive video taping of everything.)

Posted by: nazcalito | June 4, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

So the White priest is being racist against the White candidate? I don't even understand that math.

Posted by: michael | June 4, 2008 4:20 AM | Report abuse

Pfleger? Just one of Obama's spiritual advisers and one of many shady friends and associates of the Marxists ultra liberal

Posted by: Mike | June 4, 2008 12:38 AM | Report abuse

carol brings up interesting statement. Blacks are no longer victums of anyone but themself, for you to say otherwise means asian, hispanics and europeans that come here, people of color or not are all somehow 'better' than blacks. I hardly think we would agree that is true

blacks dont need a hand out, they do not need commiseration, they need fortitude and personal responsibility. which is exactly what you will never ever get from the Democrats, they will continue to use you to further their careers with cries of 'victum'

as to why keep the caricature of a man of faith around. you cannot. do you think all the priests who abused those poor kids didn't do some good ?

come to your senses, take some pride. he is a bad apple. it doesn't matter how much good he did, the bad trumps all.

Posted by: laughing at the dems | June 4, 2008 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Pfleger needs be excommunicated. His messages of hate and racism are directed to add fuel to a fire that should have burnt out long ago. He is not of Christ, not of God... his messages are evil. Obama's friends are a downright abomination to this country. That church is sad what they applaud and cheer. The church also needs to not get a free ride with taxes... no more exempt standing... it is merely a gathering place of hate mongers and political rallys.

Posted by: Obamination | June 3, 2008 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Perfect example of a racist himself. What a joke.

Posted by: francis | June 3, 2008 11:18 PM | Report abuse

This is a child with a Roman Catholic Collar. The church let him be ordained, once again showing its inability to attract mature, healthy men to the priesthood. Jackson, Sharpton, Farrakan, Wright and Pfleger....the short list for who could be considered as the least spiritually developed in a flock of would men of God. God help us all.

Posted by: suibne | June 3, 2008 10:59 PM | Report abuse

THE CHURCH HAS TAKEN MEASURES TO PREVENT SEXUAL ABUSE, HAS PAID LOTS OF MONEY TO THE VICTIMS, HAS APOLOGIZED NUMEROUS TIMES, EVEN THE POPE APOLOGIZING. YOU SHOULD NOW QUIT BEING SO ANTI CATHOLIC.THERE IS MUCH SEXUAL ABUSE GOING ON AT THE PRESENT TIME FROM ALL SEGMENTS OF SOCIETY, RICH, POOR, DIFFERENT RELIGIONS, PEOPLE OF NO FAITH, ETC. DO SOMETHING TO HELP STOP IT.

THE PRIEST GOING ON LEAVE IS A MINOR PUNISHMENT. HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN THROWN OUT OF THE PRIESTHOOD.

Posted by: Mary | June 3, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Black liberation theology = Marxism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_liberation_theology

Cardinal George is protecting the Catholic church worldwide.

Pfleger should be excommunicated for his message of hate.

Cardinal George remembers Father Charles E. Coughlin and his 1932 message of hate , where goon squads hit the streets to hunt down Jews while simultaneously preaching his version of "Social Justice".

Pflager is the most vile sort ,that graphicaly represents the opposite of Jesus' message of; "Love thy neighbor as your self" and "Turn the other cheek".

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Pfleger should be expelled not just take a leave. His actions and words were absolutely shameful. I suggest he look in a mirror and take a hard look at what a loser looks like and beg the good Lord for forgiveness and start anew. Honestly, what on earth do you gain by acting in such a disgraceful way towards his fellow man. Shame, shame, shame on him.

Posted by: MARGIE | June 3, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Where was Cardinal George while the abuse of children by priests was going on over decades unnoticed and/or hidden? And yet he admonished a priest who speaks truth in a week! I despair for the country and the church.

Posted by: Olive K. Jacobson | June 3, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

TOO BAD that a Fox News analyst, who says the EXACT same thing about Senator Clinton every other night, hasn't been asked to take a LEAVE, as well!!

Posted by: re:Fox News | June 3, 2008 10:36 PM | Report abuse

There was nothing christ like in this man's mocking of the tears of a servant leader. "So you think in your heart, so shall you be" His demonstrations in that pulpit show the heart of someone inconsisent with our Christ. Hopefully upon reflection he can reoncile what he had done and apologize and be more like the work he seems to be known for.

Posted by: Bo Dean | June 3, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

The Church of Jesus was destroyed within 200 years of Jesus' death. The Scribes and Pharisees Crucified Jesus, and the Church has been Crucifying everyone Like Jesus ever since.

Posted by: Start Loving | June 3, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

The Cardinal's decision had to be for political reasons. How I wish the Cardinal had taken such prompt action with the abusive priests.
While what Father P said was not in good taste, many (including me) feel that his statements were true.
How can anyone overlook the good he has done in the African-American community. The Catholic Church needs more priests like him; to remove him from his parish is foolish, insensitive, and just plain wrong.

Posted by: Carol Johnson | June 3, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

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