Members of the Faith Community of St. Sabina said Wednesday evening that Fr. Michael Pfleger was "ambushed" when he was given a letter of suspension by Francis Cardinal George.
In a statement, the organization said Pfleger was called to a meeting at the Pastoral Center at 4:30 p.m., the same time the cardinal's letter announcing the suspension was released to the media.
"The press received the letter that [Pfleger] received at the meeting before the church or the pastor had even heard about it," said Kimberly Lymore, the Associate Minister at the Faith Community of St. Sabina.
Their statement reads, in part:
On March 11, 2011, Fr. Pfleger met with Cardinal George where he was asked to take over as president of Leo High School.
On March 19, 2011, Fr. Pfleger sent a letter to Cardinal George saying that he was neither qualified nor experienced being president of a high school but that he was willing to help Leo High School in any way that he could
According to Lymore, there has been no further communication between Pfleger and George since that exchange, despite requests from the church's cabinet and leadership team.
"[Pfleger] spent the last 36 years in this Archdiocese, given his life to this community to the church, and to be treated like this is unfair; to be given a letter and then he doesn't even want to -- the cardinal doesn't want to discuss it with him -- that's not fair," said Lymore.
Pfleger was on the church's premises Wednesday night but refused to speak publicly.
"He's shocked. He didn't know. He was blindsided. I want to say he was ambushed," Lymore said.
At a previously scheduled event earlier in the afternoon, where Pfleger was speaking to students about being successful, he apologized for the media attention in his opening remarks.
"Please don't be distracted," he told them. "I just found out about this at 4:30 this afternoon. Complete surprise."
The church said it'll release a more detailed statement of its plans on Thursday.