Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Personal Aside: What Must Happen Until Pfleger is Justly Dealt With?
Catholics will wait a long time if they expect that the timid, mild, semantically parsing archdiocese will punish Fr. Michael Pfleger on its own. But nevertheless the day of penitential reckoning may be near for the fiery Saint Sabinas pastor. Waithow can those two statements be reconciled?
EasyPflegers scandalous pastorate may well have angered the one institution that carries massive weight in Catholic circles: the Democratic party. He has already brought serious harm to the Barack Obama campaign from a ranting pastor run amok. The archdiocese has stood by and allowed him to rant. But Democrats are on the verge of saying: enough. Then the archdiocese will have to act.
A few evenings ago, Fox TV talk show host Bill OReilly criticized the ultra-bland nature of the formal disclaimer issued by the archdiocese to Pfleger. As well he should. The truth is that Pfleger has become more than a media power but up to now at least has been a major figure in the Democratic party. But he has broken his plate with important elements of the party now. It would be advantageous if he were silenced forever. Were he to be stripped of his pastorate and do what he has threatened in the paststart his own church--he would attract no more attention than the usual down-and-out leather-lunged Elmer Gantry storefront preacher he resembles. It is his acceptance as a Roman Catholic priest that gives him authority in the same way that the collar confers misbegotten integrity on the ultra-partisan boilerplate novelist-pro-Democratic columnist Fr. Andrew Greeley who hits the celebrity circuit by dining and opera-going with archdiocesan officialdom. But Greeley is a firm ally of the party; Pfleger has become a notoriously loose cannon.
Only when Pfleger becomes persona non grata with the Democratic party that pulls the ecclesial strings will the archdiocese be forced to do what it has not had the courage to do heretofore--subdue him. But the archdiocese is more than a church organism. Look to the lay chancellor, formerly Ed Vrdolyaks best precinct captain, who runs the show except for the liturgical ceremonials. The Chicago archdiocese has long been a satellite of the ruling Democratic families who diss doctrine that is inconvenient with the party e.g. abortion, gay rights, contraception: the party of the pro-abort Catholic Daleys, the Durbins, the Hyneses, the Madigans, the Strogers, the Emil Joneses, the Quinns, Dick Durbin and a litany of other famous names in the legislature and city council with which I include Eddie Burke as a knight of Malta to whom the chancery bows deferentially (though not gutsy, fearless Anne who showed the NCCB as interim head that she could not be rolled). The future of the Democratic ticket in Illinois depends on Obama doing well in this state. It has been regarded as a near-certainty but if anyone can derail it and cause working class whites to defect, it is rants by the white Pfleger which touch on anti-white bigotry.
Of course, if the archdiocese had any guts, Pfleger would have been out on his ear long ago on serious theological impropriety and flagrant disobedience.
Theological Impropriety. His Masses are liturgical nightmares and bear little resemblance to what was intended as a divinely ordained means of applying the merits of Calvary, something the Council of Trent meant when it declared the sacrifice [of the Mass] is truly propitiatory so that if we draw near to God with an upright heart and true faith, with fear and reverence, with sorrow and repentance, through the Mass we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. The Church teaches that while the blessings of salvation were merited for mankind on the cross, they are still to be applied to us principally through the Mass. It is a good question as to whether the Masses at Sabinas are valid. More likely they are not and the Catholic congregants are being mis-led as to their efficacy.
For the Mass that is polluted with railing and shouting anent race hatred and partisan Democratic politics that sets its heavily non-observant, secular attendees huzzaing and bouncing off the walls in orgies of primitive emotion against whitey is a sacrilege in the same way as if whites did the same in response to insults to blacks.
Flagrant Disobedience. Pfleger has refused to be transferred in accordance with term limits and has said that if he is, he will start his own church. At any other relatively recent time in U.S. Catholic history, Pfleger would be unhorsed, decommissioned, defrocked, laicized and sent out to pasture. Because the flaccid, equivocating archdiocese cannot muster the will to exert discipline (the same derelictions that accompanied its failure to halt latent pedophilia and active homosexuality in the seminaries) Pfleger will not be banished or silenced or sent on sabbatical until the Democratic party of Cook county and Illinois uses the words of Henry II will no one rid me of this priest? Only Democratic party opprobrium at ecclesial laxity on Pfleger will call the turn in ecclesial circles here .and only until then will ecclesial authorities determine to rid itself of this priest. When Daley or his surrogate calls 1555 N. State, and only then, it will happen.
An archdiocese that cannot bring itself to threaten to strip the name Catholic from DePaul not even threaten to do this not even pretend to stand up to a school that teaches gay advocacy in Queer Studies 101 cannot be expected to unhorse a formidable media-icon and Democratic hustler like Pfleger. The only people this archdiocese can crack down on are Catholic authenticists since it is taken for granted that they will figuratively kiss the ecclesial ring and bleat assent.
Well for most authenticists, that time has long been over. It is long past time to recognize that discipline in the archdiocese to curtail Democratic politics, false teaching and free-form near Satanic liturgical excesses has fallen into a shambles, motivated by the desire to make it through the day while quaking from the displeasure of the 100 or so ruling largely Irish Catholic Democratic families.
In all its long history, this is the third lowest point of influence for the archdiocese since its formation on Nov. 22, 1843.
The first: The battle between foreign-born priests and native born priests which clouded the administration of Archbishop Patrick Feehan in 1899. Of the 119 parishes in Cook and Lake counties, 63 were national parishes, designed to meet the special needs of the foreign born. Feehan couldnt get along with his auxiliary bishop, Alexander J. McGavick and so Rome ordained a second, Peter J. Muldoon. But the Irish-born pastors resented Feehans preference for the native-born Muldoon. A bitter challenge to the archbishops authority was led by Rev. Jeremiah J. Crowley and continued until Crowleys excommunication. The diocese was in ethnic uproar until Archbishop James E. Quigley was ordained in 1903.
The second: dissatisfaction between a cadre of priests motivated by what they called the spirit of Vatican II was prompted by John Cardinal Codys retirement of a number of pastors. Charges that Cody was an authoritarian culminated in a spate of stories prompted by dissident priests that appeared in the Sun-Times including Fr. Andrew Greeley.
Cody mastered the knack of alienating many factions. He ordered busing of Catholic school children to schools in racially segregated neighborhoods, gaining support of blacks but alienating many whites. His autocratic manner infuriated so-called Vatican II followers. They charged that Cody misused corporation sole and ran the archdioceses finances as he would his own bank account. And they culminated with a charge, unproven, that Cody rewarded a young man they insisted was his own illegitimate son with archdiocesan contracts and was misusing church monies to support a mistress. It led to the speculation that Cody would be indicted by a federal grand jury that was studying his case. Instead the prelate toppled over from a massive heart attack at the age of 74 in 1982 which his physician said was prompted by the strain. The stories ended and those who spurred the stories, some of them false, will someday have to face the consequences when they appear before final judgment in eternity.
The chaotic inability of the archdiocese to restrict pedophilia and homosexuality in the clergy and the seminaries plus its fright of Michael Pfleger certifies this as the third lowest point in its history. Given the reality of the situation, only an angry Democratic party hierarchy can ironically spur the archdiocese to do what it has been loath to do with dissent in the past.