Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich has condemned what he called anti-Semitic statements made by Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan at a Roman Catholic church on the city's south side.
He also rebuked Catholic priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger for inviting Farrakhan to speak without consulting Cupich.
“Minister Farrakhan could have taken the opportunity to deliver a unifying message of God’s love for all his children,” Cupich said in a statement. “Instead, he repeated smeared the Jewish people, using a combination of thinly veiled discriminatory rhetoric and outright slander.
“I apologize to my Jewish brothers and sisters, whose friendship I treasure, from whom I learn so much, and whose covenant with God remains eternal,” he continued.
Pfleger invited Farrakhan to speak at St. Sabina Church after he was banned from Facebook, along with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos after they violated the site’s ban on “dangerous individuals.”
Pfleger defended the decision to invite Farrakhan to his church, saying he was responding to the ban as a “defender of free speech.”
During his speech, Farrakhan asserted people shouldn't be angry with him if "I stand on God's word." He also said he knows "the truth" and "separate the good Jews from the Satanic Jews."
Cupich blasted the comments, classifying them as "antisemitic rhetoric” that had no place in the public sphere.
“Discriminatory invective of any kind — has no place in American public life, let alone in a Catholic church,” he said.
Cupich encouraged "Pfleger to accept the invitation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center to meet with their leadership and dialogue with survivors” in his statement condemning the remarks.
Prior to Thursday’s event, Pfleger dismissed criticisms from those, including the Illinois Holocaust Museum, that were condemning his embrace of Farrakhan on free speech grounds.
“Too many people have struggled and died for the right of free speech and I will continue to struggle to preserve it,” he said. “Anyone who knows me and my life’s work knows I have sought to fight for the Beloved Community that Dr. Martin Luther King called us to.”