Controversial Chicago priest Father Michael Pfleger, a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama who publicly mocked Sen. Hillary Clinton, will return to his parish after a two-week leave of absence.
Cardinal Francis George, the Archbishop of Chicago, had asked Fr. Pfleger to go on leave from St. Sabina’s Church after video of the priest’s sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago was made public. In the sermon, the priest implied Sen. Clinton had a sense of white entitlement and ridiculed a speech of hers in which she cried.
In the publicized videos, Fr. Pfleger had also said “America is the greatest sin against God.” The priest later said that he meant to say that racism is the greatest sin against God.
During Mass at St. Sabina Church on Sunday, pastoral assistant Kimberly Lymore announced that the priest would return on June 16. Lymore said that the only restrictions placed on Fr. Pfleger are that he cannot publicly mention any of the candidates’ names or campaign for any political candidates. The church leadership committee which drafted the letter read by Lymore said that it was “pleased with the outcome.”
In a letter also read by Lymore on Sunday, Fr. Pfleger asked parishioners to remain steadfast in their faith during his absence.
According to the Chicago Tribune, some parishioners said they had considered staying home in the priest’s absence but had decided to come to show support.
"Father Pfleger would have wanted us to be here," said Angela Oliver, 49.
Parishioners said the media controversy had overshadowed Father Pfleger’s good deeds in the parish neighborhood. In addition to other accomplishments, they credited the priest with running out liquor stores and gang members.
The Archdiocese of Chicago would not confirm the priest’s return date of June 16. Last Tuesday Cardinal George asked the priest to leave the parish “for a couple of weeks.”