Fr. Pfleger apologizes, agrees to transition out of parish after standoff
CHICAGO, May 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Chicago priest famous for supporting pro-abortion candidate Obama has been restored to his parish for now after apologizing for remarks construed as a threat to leave the Catholic Church.
Rev. Michael Pfleger was suspended by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago on April 27 after the priest said he would prefer to leave the Catholic Church than his parish, Saint Sabina, from which he was to be transitioned to nearby Leo Catholic High School.
“If my remarks in a radio interview seemed to be a threat to leave the priesthood, I am sorry,” Pfleger said in his statement. “That was not my intention. I am committed to the priesthood and the Catholic Church.”
Pfleger said that he had agreed to “move toward creating a plan of transition for the future of St. Sabina,” where the priest has served as pastor for almost 30 years. Cardinal George issued a separate statement approving of Pfleger’s statement, calling it a “genuine step toward healing the hurt and clarifying the confusion.”
The Chicago priest has a strong relationship with his parishioners at the largely African-American St. Sabina, but has become a controversial figure for outspokenly supporting Obama as “the best thing to come across the political scene since Bobby Kennedy.” Pfleger has also stoked controversy in the Catholic world by pushing for women priests and an end to priestly celibacy.
Cardinal George, who honored Pfleger with the archdiocese’s Racial Justice Lifetime Achievement award in April 2010, defended the priest against negative news coverage at the time, but emphasized that abortion is incompatible with true social justice.