Catholic League steps where it shouldn’t
Bill Donohue, president of the “non-partisan” Catholic League, decided to inject himself in the Barack Obama/Fr. John Pfleger matter. Do read Donohue’s entire statement.
Why Donohue needed to comment on the matter and slam Fr. Pfleger is not at all clear to me. Some thoughts: Fr. Pleger is not as “divisive” as Rev. Jeremiah White. What does the “color of their skin” have to do with evaluating or criticizing the social and theological ramifications of their respective ministries? Does Donohue really have an issue with state money going to Catholic social programs or just with state money going to St. Sabina’s social programs? Why did Donohue have to issue his comments after Barack Obama denounced Fr. Pfleger’s remakrs, after Fr. Pfleger apologized, and after Cardinal George rebuked Fr. Pfleger and the latter promised not to help the campaign of any candidate? The priest in question has apologized and his bishop has swiftly handled the matter. It’s a closed issue. Why bring it up in the media and perpetuate the story if not for partisan reasons?
Fr. Pfleger is a controversial priest, but his accomplishments and ministries ought not to go ignored. Here is the AP’s write-up on his efforts in South Chicago where, I imagine, being an effective Catholic priest is not the simplest and most commonplace task:
Pfleger has invited criticism with his words and actions in the past, even before Sunday’s fiery sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ.
He has hit the streets, sometimes with busloads of parishioners in tow, to protest Jerry Springer’s television show, stores that sell drug paraphernalia and gun violence. He’s been arrested for acts of civil disobedience, such as smearing red paint on alcohol and tobacco billboards. Last year, he and the Rev. Jesse Jackson were arrested during a protest of a suburban gun shop; charges were later dropped.
Pfleger’s fight to make the community safe is an intensely personal one. He’s adopted three children, one of whom was gunned down near the church in 1998.
Pfleger has urged parishioners to pay prostitutes and drug users so they could share their faith with them. He has offered his church as a place where controversial figures can express their views. Farrakhan spoke there, as did the Rev. Al Sharpton.
At times, there has been talk of diocesan officials reassigning Pfleger, but he is immensely popular in his parish and has helped it thrive over the past quarter-century as many other congregations have struggled.