“Snuffy” Pfleger Ordered to Pray

But not pray as leader of a congregation, rather on a forced suspension. He’s apparently been telling his boss that he doesn’t want to spend his career at one parish. So they privately discussed the possibility to lead a high school. And he went to the media and told the world that the Catholic Church was trying to remove him.

I’m not Catholic, but it seems they have given him some choices. Leave the ministry by your own decision. Pray and come back with an open heart ready to take their assignment – wherever it might be. Pray and come back to argue, effectively violating the terms he agreed to upon becoming a priest to accept their assignment and therefore again leaving the ministry by his own decision. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong since, once again, I’m interpreting and not actually Catholic. I also don’t know enough Catholics to ask.)

Thirdpower notes that this action is because Michael Pfleger has been “an obnoxious turd.” To put it somewhat more politely, I’ll say that his ego appears to have gotten in the way of his heart.

14 thoughts on ““Snuffy” Pfleger Ordered to Pray”

  1. My understanding is, no priest can do anything in a diocese (which is an area under the spiritual direction of a specific bishop) unless the bishop of that diocese approves of it. For example, if a couple wanted a priest from another diocese (maybe a chaplain of where they went to college, for instance) to come into their diocese for a wedding, baptism, etc., that priest is supposed to get the okay from their bishop, even for such “routine” activities, even if only for an hour or a day of work.

    I am not a canon lawyer, but it seems to me that Pfleger’s grandstanding violates, or threatens to violate, his vow of obedience which he almost certainly took at his ordination as a priest.

    Parishes are not McDonald’s franchises, which the franchise owner can dump for a Burger King, or otherwise play games with the franchise agreement. A parish priest is only at the parish because the bishop allows it. Pfleger thinks he’s bigger than the bishop. He’s not.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great resource for more info; it’s made up of discreet paragraph’s mostly, so is easier to use than people might think.

  2. And does a defrocked Pfleger still get the media attention he’s accustomed to?

  3. I’m not sure I am qualified as a ex alter boy, but I think they vow to follow the hierarchy of the church. Like the military they can request assignments, but must go and serve where assigned.
    The Catholics have been having another tough year and loose cannons like this guy only hurt the healing process.

    It would be nice to see the Cardinal get Vatican permission to send him to China.

  4. The key part of Cardinal George’s letter to Pfleger is that his sacramental faculties were suspended. For a priest, the only worst punishment would be ex-communication.

    He cannot celebrate Mass, he cannot hear confessions, he cannot perform marriages or funerals, and, above all else, he cannot consecrate the Eucharist. It is the power entrusted to him as a priest to take the bread and wine and turn it into the Body and Blood of Christ. That is what makes a priest a Priest and not merely a deacon.

    In my experience, priests move parish to parish every 4-5 years. I’m sure it varies from one diocese to another but being in one parish for your entirely priestly career is very, very unusual.

  5. Typically in the Catholic church we move priests around, the length of stay is dependent on the local bishop’s policy but usually every 5-10 years they go to a new parish. The idea being to avoid the cult of personality so the people aren’t attending church because of one priest, and to keep it centered on the service and not the pastor. For him to act like it is out of place to be moved is very odd and I think the cardinal has made the right decision here.

  6. Catholic priests have, from time to time, been very active in societal issues. Many were involved in the civil rights movement back in the 60s. But throughout it all, they remained as priests.

    They’re not *employees* who can decide whether they want a promotion/transfer or not. They go where the Church tells them to go and do what the Church tells them to do.

    It sounds like Pfleger (I intentionally resist calling him Father Pfleger) has put himself above the Church. It also seems that his Parish has done the same thing. Dioceasan priests don’t make vows, they make promises. It is similar to the vow, but the promise is a promise of obedience to the local Bishop. He broke that promise.

  7. Liberation Theology always leads to conflict with ecclesiastical authority. See history of Latin American Liberation priests. Much good against autocrats typical of the area but usually followed by Marxism.

    Am sure the Episcopal Church will not only give Pfleger a parish but the purple as well.

  8. What Lucky said (and I’m not Catholic either, but I’ve long been interested in the Church as an entity, and in theology just for fun – does my being a philosophy major show?).

    There’s a very clear chain of command here, and I believe your reading of Pfleger’s options is correct.

    He can tell the Church to screw off, but he might not like the consequences.

    Or he can do what the Church says.

    That’s about it.

  9. Writing as a former altar boy (notably unmolested by several parish priests over many years in the 1960’s and 1970’s) and a fairly lapsed Catholic, the good Mr. Pfleger does not have to stay, but if he does stay, he has to obey, and if he does not obey, he most likely will be removed from the priesthood completely and possibly from the Church.

    I may one day un-lapse, since it was not the Church that threw me out, it was me losing my faith, and I am sure they would welcome me back. Perhaps something similar will, with God’s grace, occur with Mr. Pfleger.

  10. I can’t add much to what’s been said above, Priests must make a vow of obedience when they’re ordained. They have the option of also taking a vow of poverty. In the case of Priests of a religious order, any money they recieve is a stipend from the order itself. One example I can think of is Father David Drwyer, who does a show on the Catholic Channel on satellite radio. His paycheck from Sirius Radio goes to the Paulist order, he gets whatever stipend they give him.

    Priests are allowed to be involved in social issues, but if their involvement causes too much heat to the Church, they’ll be told to back off. If they ignore their Bishop, further discipline WILL be forthcoming. He went too far, he’s getting his hand slapped for his actions. As a life-long Catholic, I hope he prays on where his life’s going and folows his Bishop’s orders. But I doubt he’ll ever consider his actions as hurting the Church. I see him more as a lost cause. And that’s a shame.

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