Thursday April 15, 2010

Chicago’s Fr. Pfleger Apologizes but Reaffirms Support for Women’s Ordination

By Patrick B. Craine

CHICAGO, Illinois, April 15, 2010 ( – The Archdiocese of Chicago has issued a statement from Fr. Michael Pfleger responding to criticism over his professed support for women’s ordination in a homily last Sunday. In the statement, the priest apologizes, but reaffirms his position against Church teaching. In separate remarks he has criticized the reaction against his dissent.

On Sunday, only days after having received a lifetime achievement award from the Archdiocese and Cardinal Francis George, Fr. Pfleger told his congregation at Saint Sabina’s Catholic Church: “That’s why there should be women priests. That’s why there should be married priests. That’s why there should be women bishops and women cardinals.”

Following criticism from concerned Catholics, the following statement from the priest was posted to the front page of the Archdiocese’s website on Wednesday:

“On Sunday, April 11, while preaching a sermon on the power of fear, I was referring to the fear that paralyzed the apostles, locking them in a room, leaving only John and the women at the foot of the cross. I stated that is why I believe women ought to be able to be ordained, as well as priests ought to be able to get married.

“While this is my personal opinion, I do respect and follow the Catholic Church teachings and I am sorry I failed to do this.”

Fr. Pfleger later downplayed his comments in support of women’s ordination in an interview with Wednesday evening, dismissing concerns over his dissent.

“My only comment is it really concerns me that this morning I’m dealing with a family whose child was killed last Monday night, a high school student … there’s four people murdered 10 minutes away from me in Marquette Park, there are shootings last night in the neighborhood where I live, and hundreds are killed in China, but people are more concerned with an opinion of a priest who said something for 15 seconds in a sermon,” he said. “It’s discouraging to me that no one’s emailing me or calling me to say ‘How can I help you save our children?’ … But they’re emailing me over an opinion voiced in 15 seconds.”

Despite Fr. Pfleger’s apology, his call for women’s ordination still appears on his parish’s website (view his comments here beginning around 54:30).

Last week, Sr. Anita Baird, founding director of the Archdiocese’s Office for Racial Justice, had to apologize after she objected to President Barack Obama being characterized as “pro-abortion,” insisting he was “pro-choice,” in an interview with LifeSiteNews (LSN) about Fr. Pfleger’s award. Her apology stated in part that she “understand[s] that there can be no distinction between pro-abortion and pro-choice, because the choice at issue is the choice to kill a child.”

Asked for comment about Fr. Pfleger’s statement, Archdiocese of Chicago media director Susan Burritt told LSN, “The website statement stands by itself.”

See related coverage:

Chicago Archdiocesan Office to Honor Pro-Obama Fr. Pfleger

Cardinal George at Pfleger Award Ceremony: ‘Abortion Kills Racial Justice’

Chicago Archdiocesan Office Apologizes for ‘Pro-Choice’ Obama Remark

Chicago Archdiocese-Honored Priest Pushes Women’s Ordination