WBEZ | Cardinal Francis George http://www.wbez.org/tags/cardinal-francis-george Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Survivors, lawyers say documents prove priest sex abuse cover-up http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/survivors-lawyers-say-documents-prove-priest-sex-abuse-cover-109557 <p><p>Newly released documents offer the most sweeping look yet at how the Archdiocese of Chicago has handled cases of sexual abuse by priests. Attorneys and victims contend they provide clear evidence of a cover-up that started in the 1950s and continues today.</p><p>Victims&rsquo; attorneys put 6,000 pages online Tuesday. They detail alleged abuse by 30 priests against about 50 victims.</p><p>Kathy Laarveld&rsquo;s son was one of those molested by a priest. For years, she was a staunch supporter of her parish. She was the secretary, the cook, even did the laundry for the priests, who were regular dinner guests.</p><p>She had no idea that Vincent McCaffrey, one of these priests she trusted, was abusing her son.</p><p>&ldquo;McCaffrey actually took advantage of my son on his First Communion in my home, in front of my family,&rdquo; Laarveld said.</p><p>It was not until her son told her about 10 years ago -- 20 years later -- that she learned the truth. McCaffrey admitted during court hearings to molesting so many children that he lost count. The documents show he offended at every parish where he served, including that of Laarveld and her son.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t forgive myself, I&rsquo;m his mother. I would have jumped in front of a bus or a train before I would ever have let anybody touch him,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Laarveld and her husband, Jim, are among survivors of priest sex abuse and their families who worked to get these papers released. Their attorneys say they refused to settle their cases unless the files went public.</p><p>The 30 priests described in the documents are about half the number the Archdiocese lists as credibly accused.</p><p>Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented victims in these cases, spell out the accusation of a cover-up. He said, &ldquo;Priests were offending children, and they made intentional and conscious choices to conceal that, protect the priests, protect the reputation of the Archdiocese, and in effect conceal the crime and give safe harbor to the offender.&rdquo;</p><p>The documents show that offending priests moved in and out of treatment and from parish to parish, over and over, without the old parish or new one knowing what had happened.<br /><br />They show monitoring failed repeatedly. Priests and nuns who were selected to keep abusive priests from re-offending told the highest church officials they were not clear what their jobs were. They told officials the priests were breaking restrictions and hanging around kids again. And often, the records show, nothing was done.</p><p>&ldquo;It shows a pattern of repeated abuse, repeated allegations, the Archdiocese working hard to keep that all bottled up in secret and then transferring these gentleman from one parish to another so they can abuse again,&rdquo; said Chicago Marc Pearlman, who has represented nearly 100 victims along with Anderson.</p><p>&ldquo;What is striking to me is every file is very similar,&rdquo; Pearlman added. &ldquo;Each file tells the same story. The only difference is the perpetrator&rsquo;s name and the victims&rsquo; names.&rdquo;</p><p>Consider the case of Daniel Holihan. In 1986, a mom wrote to Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to tell him that the kids called Holihan &ldquo;Father Happy Hands.&rdquo;</p><p>Holihan was reportedly touching and fondling many boys and bringing them to his cottage. When the police showed an abuse-prevention movie on &ldquo;good touch, bad touch,&rdquo; a bunch of boys told their teacher it had happened to them.</p><p>The State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office found at least 12 cases with credible evidence, but did not charge Holihan.&nbsp; A letter thanks the office for its efforts to &ldquo;minimize the negative impact on the parish.&rdquo;</p><p>The documents show the Archdiocese moved Holihan to senior ministry, but let him serve in a parish on weekends for a number of years.</p><p>The Archdiocese has apologized for its handling of cases such as this. In a statement, it&nbsp; acknowledged that leaders &ldquo;made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;The pain and the suffering of victims and their families is just something that continues to haunt me, and I think it is also a terrible thing for the church,&rdquo; said Bishop Francis Kane, who oversees pastoral care for the Archdiocese.</p><p>But Kane denied there was an orchestrated cover-up. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t believe there was ever an intention to hide what has happened,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;What happened, I believe, is we&rsquo;ve had a change in understanding. Forty years ago when many of these incidents took place, we treated sex abuse in a very different way.&rdquo;</p><p>The Archdiocese points out that nearly all these cases happened before 1988. None of the 30 priests remain in active ministry. Half are dead.</p><p>The attorneys for the victims do acknowledge some things are better, including a program to help victims and training to recognize abusers.</p><p>But they say they see signs of similar patterns still occurring.</p><p>In the past decade, Father Joseph Bennett was accused of multiple allegations, including penetrating a girl&rsquo;s rectum with the handle of a communion server. In a letter to the Gary (Ind.) Diocese, asking for help monitoring Bennett, the Archdiocese said it only knew of one allegation.</p><p>Attorney Jeff Anderson points out review board reporting to Cardinal Francis George -- Bernadin&rsquo;s successor -- recommended Bennett&rsquo;s removal from priesthood.</p><p>&ldquo;Cardinal George, instead of following that recommendation, took the Bennett file and made his own determination, notwithstanding the fact one of the witnesses in that file described Bennett&rsquo;s scrotum,&rdquo; Anderson said.</p><p>The Cardinal said in documents that he interceded to make sure Bennett -- who, like many of the priests, has maintained his innocence -- had a canon lawyer.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s an excerpt from a letter the Cardinal wrote to a Bennett supporter:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/letter.PNG" style="height: 370px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p>It is this kind of response that angers Kathy and Jim Laarveld. They say their family has&nbsp; paid a high cost for priest sexual abuse, and how the Archdiocese handled it.</p><p>Jim no longer goes to Mass. Kathy tries, but she sometimes starts to sob when she begins to walk into church.</p><p>She says their son, as a boy, was carefree, a firecracker. Now he is a compassionate man who has struggled because of the abuse.</p><p>&ldquo;I look at him and I see the day he was born, all the hope, all the love, the sparkle in his eye, and his face,&rdquo; Kathy said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s a very playful individual, but he&rsquo;ll catch himself, and I say, &lsquo;Go for it. Be that little boy you could never be. You always had that over your head.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Her husband, Jim, plans to look at the documents. Their parish had two abusive priests at the same time.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to hurt, although we know a lot of what&rsquo;s in there, I&rsquo;m sure there&rsquo;s stuff we don&rsquo;t know,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to hurt my son. Hopefully we can be with him when he looks at it, because I don&rsquo;t want him to be alone.&rdquo;</p><p>Kathy Laarveld expects that pain will be short-lived. She thinks seeing the documents -- and the acknowledgement this all happened -- will help her son, and her entire family, to heal.</p><p>And she hopes it brings healing to others as well.</p></p> Wed, 22 Jan 2014 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/survivors-lawyers-say-documents-prove-priest-sex-abuse-cover-109557 Churches take ‘leap of faith’ on Emanuel water deal http://www.wbez.org/news/churches-take-%E2%80%98leap-faith%E2%80%99-emanuel-water-deal-107089 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/burke.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Church leaders took a &ldquo;leap of faith&rdquo; Wednesday and got behind Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s compromise plan to charge non-profits for city water, after some last-second lobbying that ended with unanimous City Council approval.</p><p dir="ltr">The city will now charge non-profits based on a sliding scale, determined by their net assets. Groups and churches with less than $1 million in net assets will still get free water, while groups that are worth more than $250 million would pay full price.</p><p dir="ltr">Emanuel, aldermen and religious leaders whispered near the City Council bathrooms moments before the roll call vote - a rare scene for a legislative process where most votes are decided long before they hit the council floor.</p><p dir="ltr">A coalition of religious groups had objected to the plan, arguing that some old churches wouldn&rsquo;t get a break because they&rsquo;re situated on valuable land. Chicago&rsquo;s Catholic leaders were also worried that their 200 churches and 90 schools wouldn&rsquo;t qualify for any individual exemptions because they are all technically owned by one entity, the Archdiocese of Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">Coalition leaders claim they had the City Council votes to block the mayor&rsquo;s plan, but withdrew their opposition after gaining assurances that administrative rules would later be written in their favor.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;In exchange for that commitment, we have - we have said we will support the passage of the ordinance today, and we will work it out,&rdquo; said Chancellor Jim Lago, with the Archdiocese of Chicago. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a leap of faith, and we&rsquo;re looking for the goodwill of those who will be in the room with us, and we expect that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Lago would not say whether he trusted Emanuel to make sure nonprofits don&rsquo;t take a big hit when the rules for collecting water fees are written, but he said negotiations would continue in the coming weeks.</p><p dir="ltr">The mayor took heat from Chicago&rsquo;s non-profit community when he first proposed taking away free water as part of his plan to balance the city budget in 2011. He <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-backtracks-hiking-water-costs-nonprofits-106884">backed off</a> a bit with his compromise proposal last month, but church leaders were concerned about how the city would calculate net assets.</p><p dir="ltr">After Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council vote, Emanuel maintained he struck a fair balance.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think we&rsquo;ve done it in a thoughtful way, reflective of every one of the non-for profits&rsquo; and religious entities&rsquo; different roles in the community - meaning, their net value - but nonetheless ended the practice where the taxpayers were on the hook for everybody else,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p dir="ltr">During his campaign, Emanuel vowed to stop giving away city water and sewer service to nonprofits - a freebie he estimates costs the city $20 million a year.</p><p><em>Alex Keefe is a WBEZ political reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 May 2013 18:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/churches-take-%E2%80%98leap-faith%E2%80%99-emanuel-water-deal-107089 Doctors say Chicago's Cardinal George appears cancer free http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/doctors-say-chicagos-cardinal-george-appears-cancer-free-104337 <p><p>Cardinal Francis George says he appears to be cancer free after he started chemotherapy in September for cancer cells on his liver and kidney.</p><p>The head of Chicago&#39;s Catholic archdiocese tells the <a href="http://trib.in/X8Hy3P" target="_blank">Chicago Tribune</a> doctors were encouraged because &quot;they couldn&#39;t find any evidence of cancer where they found it before.&quot; This has been George&#39;s second bout with cancer. Six years ago, surgeons removed his bladder, prostate and part of his right ureter following the discovery that he had bladder cancer.</p><p>The 75-year-old George is the spiritual leader of the Chicago archdiocese, which serves more than 2 million Roman Catholics. George says a weakened immune system means he will miss his Christmas outings this year. George won&#39;t celebrate Mass at Cook County jail or visit patients at Lurie Children&#39;s Hospital.</p></p> Wed, 12 Dec 2012 10:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/doctors-say-chicagos-cardinal-george-appears-cancer-free-104337 Chicago Archdiocese: Tweak to birth control mandate a first step http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-archdiocese-tweak-birth-control-mandate-first-step-96298 <p><p>Chicago's Catholic Archdiocese is not yet endorsing President Barack Obama's compromise on forcing religious institutions to provide birth control for employees.</p><p>Mr. Obama announced Friday that certain institutions can object on religious principle to directly provide birth control. In those cases, health insurance companies would be responsible for providing that care.</p><p>Father William Grogan, Vicar for Healthcare at the Chicago Archdiocese, said the Archdiocese stands by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which, in a written statement said they take the announcement as a first step but continue to have concerns.</p><p>Father Grogan couldn’t specify what those particular concerns are, but said they likely result "from the fact that the president made a very sincere but general statement.” He added that they want to see how the proposals will work out in detail going forward.</p><p>Cardinal Francis George recently criticized the regulation in a letter saying, "We cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens because of their religious beliefs." Although that letter was written prior to Friday’s announcement by Mr. Obama, it has been distributed to churches in the Archdiocese. Priests will be reading that letter out loud to parishioners at Sunday mass.</p></p> Fri, 10 Feb 2012 22:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-archdiocese-tweak-birth-control-mandate-first-step-96298 Cardinal George required to hand in letter of resignation http://www.wbez.org/story/cardinal-george-required-hand-letter-resignation-95555 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-13/RS2444_AP060406015168-cardinal george Charles Rex Arbogast-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cardinal Francis George turns 75 on Monday, and that means he'll be submitting his mandatory letter of resignation.</p><p>In the Roman Catholic Church, bishops are required to write a letter of resignation when they hit 75. The pope doesn't have to accept it, however, so bishops often stay in office a few more years.</p><p>Cardinal George has said <a href="http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2011/0327/7.aspx">he doesn't want to retire yet</a>. He's survived cancer, and says he feels good about his health.</p><p>Cardinals can serve as electors of the pope until they’re 80.</p><p>“We have never experienced this problem in Chicago, since all my predecessors died before they were 75,” Cardinal George said in a statement. “I am eager to be the first Archbishop of Chicago to retire!”</p><p>The cardinal's known as a conservative bishop who's spoken out against gay marriage and the ordination of women.</p><p>George gained national prominence as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a post he held from 2007 to 2010.</p></p> Mon, 16 Jan 2012 11:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cardinal-george-required-hand-letter-resignation-95555 Quinn defends legislative actions after meeting with Catholic bishops http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-defends-legislative-actions-after-meeting-catholic-bishops-95037 <p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn defended his actions as governor on Monday after a meeting with the state's Catholic bishops.</p><p>Over the weekend, Quinn described last week's meeting with Cardinal Francis George and Illinois' 13 bishops as productive and mostly about poverty, with small discussion on the governor's position in favor of abortion rights and gay rights laws regarding adoption.</p><p>In a written statement on Saturday, the 13 bishops accused the Catholic governor of mischaracterizing their meeting as mostly about the works of faith rather than its principles.</p><p>The bishops also said that as governor, Quinn's actions have not been consistent with a Catholic conscience.</p><p>"On several occasions, the Governor has referred to his Catholic conscience and faith as the justification for certain political decisions," read the Bishops' statement. "As Catholic pastors, we wanted to remind the Governor that conscience, while always free, is properly formed in harmony with the tradition of the Church, as defined by Scripture and authentic teaching authority. A personal conscience that is not consistent with authentic Catholic teaching is not a Catholic conscience. The Catholic faith cannot be used to justify positions contrary to the faith itself."</p><p>"I am who I am. I don't really wear my faith on my sleeve. I don't go around and say I'm carrying out anything other than my own conscience," said Quinn.</p><p>The bishops requested the meeting after a public disagreement with the governor last month. They were upset Quinn agreed to present an award at a ceremony hosted by an abortions-rights organization.</p></p> Mon, 19 Dec 2011 22:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-defends-legislative-actions-after-meeting-catholic-bishops-95037 Cardinal blesses ‘healing garden’ for sex-abuse victims http://www.wbez.org/story/cardinal-blesses-%E2%80%98healing-garden%E2%80%99-sex-abuse-victims-87664 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-09/CardinalGeorge_Healing_Garden.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago’s top Catholic official Thursday blessed what his archdiocese is calling its “healing garden” for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.<br> <br> The garden covers a plot next to Holy Family, a 19th century Chicago church at 1080 West Roosevelt Road, and includes more than two dozen varieties of trees, plants and flowers as well as a 600-pound bronze sculpture of a man, woman and child holding hands, dancing in a circle and smiling. An archdiocese committee that includes four abuse survivors started planning the project more than two years ago.<br> <br> At a prayer service before giving his blessing, Cardinal Francis George said the garden shows “a permanent voice of victims, a permanent apology on the part of the church, and a permanent commitment by the ministers of the church . . . that we are there” for victims who seek help.<br> <br> “We hope,” George added, “that, in the midst of this tragedy, there will be the possibility of new life, of resurrection of the heart in such a way that one can continue with new energy and new vigor and to be not trapped in something that brings death but, rather, find new life — with the help of others and the help of God — that will be, itself, a light to the world.”<br> <br> But the garden isn’t impressing some victims of Catholic clerical abuse.<br> <br> “Cardinal George and other church officials have empowered and enabled sexual predators to abuse more children,” said Barbara Blaine, president of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Instead of being punished for those reckless actions, many have been promoted.”<br> <br> Blaine says many church officials ought to face criminal investigation.</p></p> Thu, 09 Jun 2011 21:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cardinal-blesses-%E2%80%98healing-garden%E2%80%99-sex-abuse-victims-87664 Father Pfleger reinstated to St Sabina for now http://www.wbez.org/story/father-pfleger-reinstated-st-sabina-86846 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-21/Father Pfleger at pulpit_Getty_Erik Lesser.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated 5/23/11 at 9:13pm</em></p><p>Outspoken Catholic priest, Rev. Michael Pfleger, returned to the pulpit of St. Sabina Church on Sunday where he celebrated mass for the first time since his suspension. &nbsp;</p><p>Pfleger, who also celebrated his 62nd birthday on Sunday, received a standing ovation, but also apologized for his role in a high-profile standoff with the Archdiocese of Chicago during the past three weeks that left him banned from pastoral ministry and threatening to leave the Catholic church entirely.</p><p>Pfleger, the longtime pastor of the parish, was suspended last month after remarking during a National Public Radio interview that he would leave the church rather than be removed from St. Sabina Church, which he has headed for more than 30 years.</p><p>Previously, the Archdiocese had asked Pfleger to consider leaving the parish to take over leadership of a nearby Catholic high school.</p><p>In suspending Pfleger, Cardinal Francis George said if that was the priest’s attitude, he had already left the Catholic Church and therefore was "not able to pastor a Catholic parish."</p><p>Pfleger apologized for the remark Friday in a statement. He said he didn’t intend it as a threat to leave the priesthood, and he was committed to working with George to spread the Gospel.</p><p>The Archdiocese of Chicago announced Friday that it had reinstated Pfleger to full sacramental and pastoral ministry. Pfleger also said he will prepare a transition plan that he will present to George and the Priests’ Placement Board by Dec. 1.</p><p>"For the people of St. Sabina and the Church as a whole, I will do all in my power to foster healing for all," he said. "We trust in the healing power of God."</p><p>In reinstating Pfleger, George said the remarks made to National Public Radio seemed to place the priest outside the Catholic Church and constitute a threat to leave the priesthood. George said in a statement that he and Pfleger discussed how the church has been wounded and the need to find a way to heal the hurt and confusion.</p><p>"Father Pfleger’s statement, which he discussed with me, is a genuine step toward healing the hurt and clarifying the confusion," George said.</p><p>Pfleger has gained national attention for his protests of everything from gun violence to Jerry Springer’s television show. A white priest who runs a largely black parish, he has made racial equality a large part of his mission and appeared with major civil rights leaders.</p><p>He often wears African-style robes during services, and a mural of a black Jesus is behind the altar. Both of his adopted sons are black.</p><p>Pfleger has long appeared to have a strained relationship with the Chicago Archdiocese, which opposed his decision to adopt children. However, in his letter announcing the suspension, George said he has consistently supported Pfleger’s work for social justice and admired his passion for ministry.</p><p>Pfleger’s public comments have gotten him in trouble before. In 2008, he was suspended for nearly two weeks after mocking then-Sen. Hillary Clinton during her presidential run. Pfleger, who was preaching from the pulpit of President Barack Obama’s former Chicago church, pretended he was Clinton crying over "a black man stealing my show." He later apologized.</p><p>The latest disagreement stemmed from reports the archdiocese has wanted to put Pfleger in charge of a Catholic high school.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 20 May 2011 21:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/father-pfleger-reinstated-st-sabina-86846 A former priest reacts to Father Pfleger's suspension http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-28/former-priest-reacts-father-pflegers-suspension-85787 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-28/Pfleger Getty Scott Olson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Father Michael Pfleger has led the congregation of <a href="http://www.saintsabina.org/" target="_blank">St. Sabina Church</a> on Chicago’s South Side for more than three decades.&nbsp; Pfleger has been praised for his preaching skills and criticized for his controversial statements like his take on Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations.</p><p>On Wednesday, <a href="http://www.archchicago.org/cardinal/" target="_blank">Cardinal Francis George</a> suspended Pfleger’s post at St. Sabina's along with his sacramental faculties. The head of the Archdiocese of Chicago made this move after Pfleger reportedly threatened to quit the Catholic Church.</p><p>To talk about some of the repercussions of the recent events, <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> turned to author and former Catholic priest <a href="http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/alumni/hallofachievement.aspx?id=117387" target="_blank">Robert McClory</a>. He wrote a biography about the embattled pastor called <a href="http://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/catalog/showBook.cfm?ISBN=1569765286" target="_blank"><em>Radical Disciple: Father Pfleger, St. Sabina Church, and the Fight for Social Justice. </em></a></p><p><em>Music Button: The Echocentrics, "Engines of Solitude", from the CD Sunshadows, (Ubiquity)</em></p></p> Thu, 28 Apr 2011 14:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-28/former-priest-reacts-father-pflegers-suspension-85787 Cardinal George suspends Father Michael Pfleger http://www.wbez.org/story/cardinal-george-suspends-father-michael-pfleger-85765 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20080623_slecci_2228382_Reve_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Cardinal Francis George has suspended the controversial Father Michael Pfleger from his ministerial duties at St. Sabina Church on Chicago's South Side. In a letter released to the media Wednesday afternoon, George said the suspension stems from remarks Pfleger has made to the media complaining of his potential reassignment to Leo High School.</p><p><em>See the full letter below:</em></p><blockquote><p>Reverend Michael L. Pfleger<br> Pastor<br> Saint Sabina Catholic Church<br> 1210 W. 78th Place<br> Chicago, IL 60620<br> Dear Father Pfleger:<br> April 27, 2011<br> Chicago, Illinois 60690-1979<br> Several times in recent years you have told me that you do not want to remain as Pastor of Saint Sabina Parish for the length of your priestly ministry in the Church. Each time we discussed the subject, it was clear that there was no other assignment that would make equally good use of your talents in ministry and that it would also be difficult to find another pastor to take up your ministry at Saint Sabina's with comparable fervor.</p><p>Some months ago, however, an opening at Leo High School for the presidency of a fine school very important for the mission of the Church gave us the possibility of offering you a transfer that would keep you in the neighborhood and among the people to whom you have dedicated much of your life and also give you a position from which to continue to espouse the causes dear to you: education in the African American community, control of gun violence, service to the poor in the name of Christ. As you know, this was an honest offer, not driven by pressure from any group but by a pastoral need in the Archdiocese. You promised to consider what was a proposal, not a demand, even as I urged you to accept it.</p><p>Your written response to me after our preliminary conversation left open some possibility of your serving at Leo, and I continued discussions with those who are involved in priest transfers in the Archdiocese: the Priests' Placement Board, the Vicars for Priests, the Episcopal Vicar. The process would have necessarily involved conversations with Leo to clarify the position of President and see if you could meet their expectations, with the parishioners of Saint Sabina's to speak about their pastoral needs, and with priests who might be candidates to take your place as pastor, should that become necessary.</p><p>Even as these conversations began or were being planned, our private conversation was misrepresented publicly as an attempt to "remove" you from Saint Sabina's. You know that priests in the Archdiocese are "removed" only because they have been found to have sexually abused a minor child or are guilty of financial malfeasance. In all other cases, priests are reassigned, moving from one pastoral office to another according to the policies in place for the last forty years.</p><p>That process has now been short-circuited by your remarks on national radio and in local newspapers that you will leave the Catholic Church if you are told to accept an assignment other than as pastor of Saint Sabina Parish. If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish. A Catholic priest's inner life is governed by his promises, motivated by faith and love, to live chastely as a celibate man and to obey his bishop. Breaking either promise destroys his vocation and wounds the Church.</p><p>Bishops are held responsible for their priests on the assumption that priests obey them. I have consistently supported your work for social justice and admired your passion for ministry. Many love and admire you because of your dedication to your people. Now, however, I am asking you to take a few weeks to pray over your priestly commitments in order to come to mutual agreement on how you understand personally the obligations that make you a member of the Chicago presbyterate and of the Catholic Church.</p><p>With this letter, your ministry as pastor of Saint Sabina Parish and your sacramental faculties as a priest of the Archdiocese are suspended. The official rescript will follow, but this suspension permits you to retain the office of pastor while temporarily without permission to function. During this time, Father Thulani Magwaza, who is well known to the people of Saint Sabina's as your Associate Pastor, will be administrator of the parish, and Father Andrew Smith, a Chicago African-American priest currently at Saint Ailbe Parish, will assist him.</p><p>Father Pfleger, I deeply regret that your public remarks have brought you to a moment of crisis that I pray will quickly pass. This conflict is not between you and me; it's between you and the Church that ordained you a priest, between you and the faith that introduced you to Christ and gives you the right to preach and pastor in his name. If you now formally leave the Catholic Church and her priesthood, it's your choice and no one else's. You are not a victim of anyone or anything other than your own statements. To avoid misrepresentation and manipulation on anyone's part, this letter will be released to the parish, which is to publish it in its entirety, and to the media after it has been delivered to you.</p><p>You remain in my prayers, and I hope I remain in yours.<br> Sincerely yours in Christ,<br> Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.<br> Archbishop of Chicago</p></blockquote></p> Wed, 27 Apr 2011 21:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cardinal-george-suspends-father-michael-pfleger-85765