Chicago Archdiocese Asks Pflegler To Take Leave Due To Anti-Clinton Comments

CHICAGO (AP) -- Cardinal Francis George asked a Chicago priest on Tuesday to temporarily step down from his post to "reflect on his recent statements" regarding Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her bid for the White House.

Last week, the Rev. Michael Pfleger mocked Clinton at Sen. Barack Obama's former church, saying the New York senator felt "entitled" to the Democratic nomination for president.

In a guest sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ, Pfleger pretended he was Clinton crying over "a black man stealing my show."

Pfleger's sermon, along with past controversial statements by Trinity's former longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, led Obama to resign his membership at Trinity. Pfleger apologized for his comments Sunday.

George asked Pfleger to take leave from pastoral duties at St. Sabina Church in order to "reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of the church's regulations for all Catholic priests," according to a statement Tuesday from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Officials have said the Catholic Church does not endorse political candidates.

The leave was effective Tuesday and was scheduled to last about two weeks, said Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Burritt.

"This is the Cardinal's way of hopefully relieving some of the pressure, to step away and reflect a little bit. That is the intent here," she said. "This has been a difficult week in light of everything that's happened."

Pfleger, who has promised George he would no longer mention any presidential candidates by name, did not believe "this to be the right step at this time," according to the statement.

"While respecting his disagreement, I have nevertheless asked him to use this opportunity to reflect," George said in the statement. "I hope that this period will also be a time away from the public spotlight and for rest and attention to family concerns."

A message seeking comment was left for Pfleger.

Hundreds of parisioners crowded a service at St. Sabina on Tuesday evening, asking George to reinstate Pfleger and requesting a meeting with the cardinal. Pfleger was not at the service, but Wright did attend.

Pfleger, a 59-year-old white priest at a largely black parish, has gained a reputation for impassioned sermons and activism. The Archdiocese said his temporary replacement is the Rev. William Vanecko, pastor of Chicago's St. Kilian Catholic Church.

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  • by Anonymous on Jun 6, 2008 at 08:59 AM
    This man has no place in any church. He's sickening. However, I do not link him to Obama. I'm still voting for Obama!
  • by Chris Location: Greenville on Jun 5, 2008 at 04:10 AM
    The first 2 times I saw the comments from Rev. Pfleger, it was partial, and the second full. The first time it sounded like he was speaking of himself about Rev. Wright, like he wanted to be Obama's spiritual leader. The second time I got all the infoand saw it was about Clinton. The way he said it was true, she feels she is entitled just because her husband was president. The way she says she isn't gonna quit even after she has lost and can't win , she sounds like a spoiled child. It is just too bad political correctness is so strong, that we can't have truth delivered thios way without someone crying about it. Hurray Rev. Pfleger
  • by Mike Location: Edenton on Jun 5, 2008 at 02:52 AM
    Politics does not belong in the pulpit. It has nothing to do with saving souls. ANY church engaging in politics should lose it's tax exempt status.
  • by Cactus Location: Strabane,NC on Jun 4, 2008 at 03:59 PM
    I'm sure he would be welcome at the Trinity United Church with open arms.
  • by Cliff Saxon Location: Altoona, AL on Jun 4, 2008 at 11:17 AM
    Cardinal George should defrock Pfleger immediately! He went way over the line!

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