By John Ruberry
“You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24.
Once again, Father Michael Pfleger, the meddlesome pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side, embarrassed the Archdiocese of Chicago. This time is was over inviting Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to speak from the altar there shortly after his lifetime ban from Facebook over hatemongering.
Pfleger introduced Farrakhan, after railing about First Amendment rights, which do not apply to companies or corporations. Farrakhan then went on to hatemonger some more, when he spoke of “satanic Jews.”
Cardinal Blase Cupich, Pfleger’s boss, condemned Pfleger’s decision to host Farrakhan. “Without consulting me, Fr. Michael Pfleger invited Minister Louis Farrakhan to speak at St. Sabina Church in response to Facebook’s decision to ban him from its platforms,” the archbishop said in a statement.
The statement continued, “Minister Farrakhan could have taken the opportunity to deliver a unifying message of God’s love for all his children. Instead, he repeatedly smeared the Jewish people, using a combination of thinly veiled discriminatory rhetoric and outright slander.”
That will likely be the end of Cupich’s complaint, despite Pfleger’s history of outrageous behavior, which include:
During a sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ in 2008 as its then-pator, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, looked on, Pfleger role-played Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama was the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, “Oh, damn! Where did you come from? I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealing my show!”
Those remarks earned him a suspension from Cupich’s predecessor, Cardinal Francis George. It appeared that his pastorship at St. Sabina, which he held since 1975, was over, as he was being maneuvered by George to become the principal of nearby Leo High School, but Pfleger struck back by saying he would consider leaving the Catholic Church if that happened. So much for being a servant of Christ. George’s retort included, “If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church.” George relented about a month later and reinstated Pfleger.
Suburban gun shops have been a frequent target of Pfleger’s ire. During a protest at one Chuck’s Gun Shop & Range, Pfleger allegedly threatened the life of its owner, John Riggio. “He’s the owner of Chuck’s. John Riggio. R-i-g-g-i-o. We’re going to find you and snuff you out. You know you’re going to hide like a rat. You’re going to hide but like a rat we’re going to catch you and pull you out.”
And when attending protests Pfleger is accompanied by armed guards.
George was appointed by the more conservative Pope John II, Cupich was the pick of Pope Francis, a liberal. So it’s a safe bet that Pfleger isn’t leaving. The Chicago archdiocese pioneered six-year terms for pastoral assignments, which are occasionally extended in cases when nears retirement. Pfleger’s 44-year run at St. Sabina is an unprecedented one in the modern American Catholic church.
Also it’s important to note that despite Catholic churches closing throughout the Chicago area, St. Sabina enjoys a healthy membership and its elementary school is well-attended. Its neighborhood, Auburn Gresham, while not as bad as neighboring Englewood, is a high-crime area and economically distressed. But the two block area surrounding the church appears more prosperous than the rest of Auburn Gresham, where coincidentally my late mother grew up. You get the feeling that St. Sabina, in a small way, resembles a medieval monastery, it’s the hub of the economy there. Next to the church is a large senior assisted living home, a job training facility, and a social services center.
The blonde pastor lays the golden eggs and Cupich is a social activist too.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.