Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Dr. Boyce Watkins; Father Pfleger’s Suspension was Disgraceful…

April 28, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

Like Love Haha Wow Sad Angry

( If there were ever a human being who best embodied the words “What would Jesus do?” it would be Father Michael Pfleger out of Chicago.  Father Pfleger has put it on the line for 30 years as the head of the St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church in the south side of Chicago.  The church is predominantly black, but Father Pfleger connects with his parishioners as if they were his family.

He has fought the powers that be without concern for the professional consequences.  He has stood up for the poor in ways that almost no public or  political figure ever has.  He has fought for the dying youth of Chicago in ways that have put his own life in jeopardy.  He stands up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, and that is what makes him the ultimate spiritual patriot.

You can imagine my disappointment to find out that Father Pfleger was suspended recently by Cardinal Francis George for refusing to accept Georges’s request to transfer to a Catholic High School near his church.  Father Pfleger has been with St. Sabina for 30 years and said he would rather leave the church than to leave St. Sabina.  The decision by George was likely a political one, for the church has been working to get rid of their most celebrated pastor for years.

In response to Father Pfleger’s decision not to leave, George wrote, “If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish.”

As a person who has also dealt with administrators who care more about maintaining bureaucratic power than actually doing the right thing, I fully understand what my brother Michael Pfleger is going through.  I remember my battles with the pseudo-intellectuals I’ve had to deal with at Syracuse University, who’ve forgotten that scholarship is meaningless when hiding it away in a tower that is inaccessible to 98% of the population.

Father Pfleger, in the spirit of Jesus Christ himself, is so connected to the true essence of God that he is unable to fit within the rigid and myopic structural confines of anyone’s church.  The Catholic Church and Cardinal George should all be ashamed, for suspending a man like Father Pfleger is truly in violation of the spirit of the higher power.  I am incredibly disappointed with their decision.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  For more information, please visit


5 Responses to “Dr. Boyce Watkins; Father Pfleger’s Suspension was Disgraceful…”
  1. Brian says:

    As an Black Catholic, It sadden me to see this internal, Catholic matter being played out in the media, which does not fully understand and accept Catholic teachings and traditions.

    In the Catholic Church, the bishop is the true pastor of the local Catholic communities or parishes in the diocese that the bishop shepherds. The priest assists the bishop in the bishop’s pastoral work. Father Pfleger is a diocesan priest; he serves the people of God under the direction of the bishop. Father Pfleger made a vow to GOD that he would obey the bishop, who has the well-being of the entire diocese in mind, not just one parish. This may seem silly to “Protestants,” who have distention as the basis of their religious tradition. But to any good Catholic, it is clear that Father Pfleger has not acted properly.

    Finally, the people of Saint Sabina should thank God that their Father Pfleger has been with them this long. Priest are routinely switched in the Catholic Church. Again, Protestants would not understand this. A parish does not center a charismatic leader. The Eucharist or Communion or the Holy Sacrifice is the center of the community and its worship to God. I’m not a bishop, and I certainly have not prayerfully discerned with Father Pfleger should remain at St. Sabina. I will say that I would support the bishop’s prayerful decision to remove him. St. Sabina has to learn to exist without Father Pfleger. That community has to learn to exist without Father Pfleger. Father Pfleger has to learn to lean not on his own understanding but in all his ways acknowledge God and let God direct his path. As Catholics, we believe the the Holy Spirit directs the actions of the Church through the bishops. Even when we have had horrible, sinful bishops, the Holy Spirit has inspired weak men to do wonderful works of God. Even if Father Pfleger does not agree with the Bishop, he should trust in the Holy Spirit. As Catholics, our trust in God helps us get through the toughest times of scandal and uncertainty. May the Peace of the Lord be with Father Pfleger always.

  2. Veritas says:

    Why would any African American person want to be Catholic when Dum Diversas a papal bull issued on 18 June 1452 by Pope Nicholas V authorised Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any “Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers” to perpetual slavery. This facilitated the Portuguese slave trade from West Africa. So why hasn’t George or any Pope apologized? At least Pfleger has the heart and conscience that’s why he has given his life to serving African Americans.

  3. Patricia says:

    Indeed Father Phleger has truly been wonderful at St. Sabina. I have no doubt that the people of his church recognize his goodness and love him as he
    obviously loves them. However, I have had priests that have done wonderful things at the parish that I have been at. I mourned when they had to leave, but I learned to love the new priests sent to take over. Why should St. Sabina be treated any differently? If Father Phleger is such a gift, shouldnt he be shared? Shouldn’t he want to spread his love? The Catholic Church has been under such scrutiny, it seems the public is under the impression they have to justify their every action to them. Not so. Its time for Father Phleger to man up and give someone else a chance or leave.

  4. Rusty T says:

    I’m a Catholic, and I know that my current pastor will be reassigned at the end of the normal five years (in my diocese). The fact that Fr. Pfleger was at his parish for so long is something they should be grateful for, but it is the norm for priests to be reassigned. Perhaps the attitude of Fr. Pfleger and some of the parishioners demonstrated in this incident is a good reason to continue this practice. Fr. Pfleger should not have publicly threatened to leave the Church. It’s that simple. By doing so, he is the cause of scandal, and should be relieved of his duties until he publicly makes amends.

  5. ms says:

    Your article is not factual. The quote you reference from the Archbishop is NOT ” in response to Fr. Pfleger’s decision not to leave” Saint Sabina’s, as you put it, but rather in response Fr. Pfleger’s repeated national press statements that he would leave the Church. It is important that readers actually read the Archbishop’s letter for themselves to form their own opinion rather than an article that presents a subjective analysis and snippets of quotes out of context.

    Fr. Pfleger himself, as noted by the Archbishop, has asked for reassignment from Saint Sabina’s multiple times, and the offering of the high school post was in response to Fr. Pfleger’s previously stated wishes.

    As the archbishop’s letter states, (and again, it is short and easy for anyone to read for themsleves), that this matter is one of a direct breach of promises Fr. Pfleger made at the time of his ordnination. This matter is not due to any disagreement between the Archbishop and the priest, but rather a disagreement between the priest’s current whims and the responsibilites he duly accepted himself from the time of his annointing as priest.

    Priests are routinely reassigned to other positions, it is the nature of the vocation, and most reassignments are every few years or so. As the bishop’s letter also states, priests are not “removed” from duty unless there is sexual misconduct, which is not alleged at all in this case. This is a mere reassignment, just as so many dozens of others that occur in the course of any one year in any single diocese. It is the duty of the priest to submit to reassignment, it is a matter of charity and selflessness in order that his talents may be used in many places. Priests are not proprietary entities of any one parish, and the danger of “ownership” mentality is avoided by reassignment. It matters not what the whims of the individual are, the role and responsibilities are clearly presented at the time a priest assumes his vocation. If a priest himself chooses to disregard this, he has made a decision that indeed calls his adherance to vocation into question. As the bishop’s letter also states, no one is removing Fr. Pfleger from the Church–if that event does happen, it is his own choice that it be so.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!