The cardinal wrote that he “deeply” regretted Fr. Pfleger's public remarks that have “brought you to a moment of crisis that I pray will quickly pass.”
“This conflict is not between you and me,” he clarified, “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.”
Although “I have consistently supported your work for social justice and admired your passion for ministry,” Cardinal George wrote, “I am asking you to take a few weeks to pray over your priestly commitments in order to come to mutual agreement on how you understand personally the obligations that make you a member of the Chicago presbyterate and of the Catholic Church.”
“With this letter, your ministry as pastor of Saint Sabina Parish and your sacramental faculties as a priest of the Archdiocese are suspended.”
The cardinal then named the Rev. Thulani Magwaza, the associate pastor at St. Sabina, as administrator during the suspension and the Rev. Andrew Smith, a priest at St. Ailbe Parish, as his assistant.
Fr. Pfleger did not react publicly the suspension, but one leader of the parish expressed anger at the decision.
“He was ambushed,” said Kimberly Lymore, who is listed as “associate minister” on the church's website directory. Lymore told the Chicago Sun-Times on April 28 that Fr. Pfleger has “given his life to this community” and is “upset,” and “in shock, just as we all were.”
Cardinal George emphasized in his letter to the priest that if “you now formally leave the Catholic Church and her priesthood, it’s your choice and no one else’s.”
“You are not a victim of anyone or anything other than your own statements,” he said. “To avoid misrepresentation and manipulation on anyone’s part, this letter will be released to the parish, which is to publish it in its entirety, and to the media after it has been delivered to you.”
“You remain in my prayers, and I hope I remain in yours.”