Forced Sabbatical

June 03, 2008

Reverend Michael Pfleger, the Catholic priest who recently caused a stir with his controversial comments in a sermon at Barack Obama's (now former) church, has been placed on a forced sabbatical. His archbishop told him to take a couple of weeks off even though Pfleger did not want to. The archbishop explained that he told Pfleger "to use this opportunity to reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of the church's regulations for all Catholic priests." This is the ecclesiastical equivalent of being sent to time-out to stop and think about what he did wrong. This is a good decision and should offer a model for future political preachers. When they cross the line, they should be sent away for a cooling-off period to think about how to refocus on their ministry. If only someone could convince John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Pat Robertson, Jeremiah Wright, and all of the other controversial preachers from this campaign to take similar sabbaticals.

5 comments

  1. Pfleger and his parishioners should have been the sole participants in this decision. I disliked what Pfleger said. But I dislike more when the powers-that-be in any hierarchy make such decisions for a local community of faith.

    What irritated me most about this debacle was watching a clip on YouTube of O'Reilly debating with two educated Catholics whether the RCC should punish Pfleger. It's somewhat infuriating that a man with a national audience every night and a huge mouth would argue for the censorship of a fellow Catholic.

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  2. BDW,

    Do you hate discipline so much that you would advocate that others defy their own bylaws?

    When one becomes a Catholic priest, they know full well what they are subjecting themselves to. It is no surprise. Catholics don't have autonomous congregations! Thus, they should not allow this priest to act autonomously simply because his parishioners think so (they too knew full well when they joined with the Catholic Church what the expectations and limitations of their membership were)!

    And why would you be irritated at O'Reilly? Because you already don't like the man? I'm not a fan either, but your logic here is completely lacking.

    O'Reilly is already a very outspoken Catholic, and therefore, as a national host, this is exactly what we should expect from him. It's his right to petition the church and to argue.

    Upon that same principle Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the chapel door at Wittenburg. Or would you say that a monk, with a church parish should not debate the Pope or other "scholars" about whether they should discipline one who is selling indulgences?

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  3. Yeah, BDW, do you really think the Catholic Church should be able to forbid a priest to marry, but not be able to put him in time-out when he talks ugly?

    What kind of parent are you going to be, thinking like that? I shudder to picture a little BDW or Alexis coming out with a wirty-durd, then getting by with it because his or her little friends don't think his parents should apply the discipline to his or her little psyche, or bottom.

    And, I like O'Reilly, but didn't know he was a Catholic.

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  4. It seems like Pfleger was quick to apologize, as if that somehow dismissed his remarks. He is an example of preachers who wanted to play to his audience.

    Stop paying attention to these guys and their importance will wane.

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  5. Thanks for the comments!

    BDW: I would prefer the individual to voluntarily take a time out, which is why I suggested it for preachers who are not part of a hierarchy.

    DR: You are correct that in the Catholic Church the bishop is following the church's governing rules. Of course as Baptists, BDW and I would prefer less of a top-down approach.

    CD: Let's not confuse disagreements with church structure with parenting styles. They are not the same philosophy.

    Danny: Thanks for bringing the focus back around to the one who was really inappropriate in this situation.

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