Francis Cardinal George on His, Pfleger's Futures

By Mary Ann Ahern
|  Tuesday, Apr 19, 2011  |  Updated 7:59 PM CDT
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Francis Cardinal George on His, Pfleger's Futures

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Francis Cardinal George

Francis Cardinal George hasn't made a decision on Father Michael Pfleger's future. 

"We had a private conversation, but the conversation has escaped into ways that haven't always been helpful. We'll just have to keep talking and see where we are," said George.

He had suggested Pfleger leave St. Sabina's and lead Leo High School but Pfleger isn't interested. George said there will be a decision on that "eventually."

Pfleger went so far as to say that if he was forced out of Sabina's, he might start his own church.

"Nobody in the Catholic Church gets his or her own way," said George.  "That's why it's the Catholic Church.  God's ways aren't our ways. I don't get my way all the time. I think he's perhaps qualified that a little bit. Nobody always gets his or her own way, we all that, he knows that."

So a timetable on whether Pfleger will stay or go?

"I don't know, depends on conversations," said George.

Besides celebrating the Easter holiday this week, Cardinal George will leave for Rome soon to take part in the beatification ceremonies for John Paul II.

George recalled the former Pope would have good things to say about Chicago whenever he met with him.

"Whenever I talked to him, the first thing he said was, 'Chicago, ah, Chicago.'  He had a soft spot in his heart," he said.

A large contingent of Chicago pilgrims will also be heading to Rome for the May 1 celebration.

When Cardinal George turns 75 next January, he said he will follow protocol and file a resignation letter with Pope Benedict XVI.

"We'll see if the Pope accepts it," said George. 

In recent years, the cardinals from New York and Los Angeles have also resigned. Many however expect it will be at least a year if not two before George would actually step down. He remains a cardinal for life and a voting member of the College of Cardinals.

"I expect to be here for a little while.  Life goes on.  There's always changes," said George.

Finally, George spoke about the biggest surprise that he didn't anticipate after some 14 years as leader of Chicago's 2.3 million Catholics.

"I certainly didn't anticipate the whole sexual abuse thing.  You come in and you inherit a diocese, how many people do you know?"

George adds while the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said there were seven credible complaints of abuse of minors from active priests across the country, none of them are from Chicago.

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