Father Michael Pfleger has been suspended by Francis Cardinal George as pastor of Chicago's St. Sabina Parish.
Cardinal George last month revealed he wanted Pfleger to exit St. Sabina and take over leadership of nearby Leo Catholic High School. Pfleger resisted and said publicly that he would rather leave the Catholic Church than take the assignment.
"If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish," George wrote.
One woman questioned the move and lamented the treatment of Pfleger when child abusers are protected.
"It’s a shame that Cardinal George felt obligated to swiftly suspend Fr. Pflegher, but could not summon the resolve to remove dozens of pedophile priests hidden and shielded by the Church for years and years."
In private, George said Pfleger had spoken openly about his desire to not serve his entire career at St. Sabina. Yet publicly, Pfleger framed the offer to be reassigned to Leo High School as being "removed" from St. Sabina, the cardinal explained.
He added that Pfleger should know that priests are only "removed" when they're found to have sexually abused a minor child or are guilty of financial malfeasance.
"Father Pfleger, I deeply regret that your public remarks have brought you to a moment of crisis that I pray will quickly pass. This conflict is not between you and me; it's between you and the Church that ordained you a priest, between you and the faith that introduced you to Christ and gives you the right to preach and pastor in his name," wrote George, who is preparing to leave for Rome for the beatification of John Paul II.
"You are not a victim of anyone or anything other than your own statements," he concluded.
Reacting to the suspension, members of the Faith Community of St. Sabina said they felt Pfleger was "ambushed" by the cardinal.
Father Thulani Magwaza, St. Sabina's Associate Pastor, will take over duties at the church.