"Chicago's top Catholic leader condemned Pfleger's comments. Cardinal Francis George said in a statement that Pfleger had promised him not to publicly mention any candidate by name this summer and fall and that he would abide by the "discipline common to all Catholic priests."
George said Pfleger's words crossed a line. "Racial issues are both political and moral and are also highly charged," he said. "Words can be differently interpreted, but Father Pfleger's remarks about Sen. Clinton are both partisan and amount to a personal attack. I regret that deeply."
Pfleger's maverick style has set him apart from Chicago's Catholic clergy dating to his seminary days, when he protested the Vietnam War and befriended Black Panthers.
But it also helped the priest turn a dwindling South Side congregation at St. Sabina into a thriving, predominantly African American parish. More than 2,100 parishioners call the church their spiritual home. In his three decades of ministry, it has been Pfleger's first and only assignment.
He turned things around at St. Sabina by highlighting black church traditions, hanging African art on the walls and featuring a black Jesus with his hands outstretched above the altar." LA Times
To paraphrase TS Eliot, "Who will rid me of these turbulent priests?" Obama has not said that, but it would be understandable if he did.
Wright and Phlegar are representative of the same phenomenon, religion as politics, religion as revolutionary philosophy.
The Catholic Church in the United States does not wish to be a church solely devoted to the needs of middle class people. The ministry to the poor and deprived is an old tradition. There used to be "national parishes" of Irish, Italian, French, etc., immigrants and their children where services were held in the vernacular of the people who inhabited the parish. This tradition continues on a smaller scale.
A friend of mine is an auxiliary bishop in a major city. His ministry is to the inner city poor there. I wonder how he would deal with this priest.
Father Phlegar has now been reprimanded by his ecclesiastical superior and has evidently promised to behave appropriately. The Catholic Church is not a democracy. Its structure, traditions and governance are those of the late Roman Empire in the West. Diocletian might find that amusing. For the diocesan clergy, there is no doubt at all as to who is in charge in a bishop's territory. It is he. For Francis Cardinal George to say he "regrets deeply" something that one of his people has said or done is to declare to that priest and the world that this behavior must not be renewed or therapeutic action will be taken.
Nevertheless, the damage is done. The image of Phlegar's racist rantings will circulate endlessly on the internet. The MSM are now powerless to prevent the dissemination of information no matter how much they try. Then there is the continuing effect of Wright's similar ravings. There are also rumors of yet more video waiting to be released at well timed moments, video involving Mrs. Obama.
None of this indicates a happy future for the Democratic Party in the presidential race. America is probably ready for a Black president if the candidate is someone who inspires the confidence of the generality of white people. If the candidate does not inspire that confidence, then...
We could easily have a situation in 2009 in which the Democrats have large majorities in both houses of Congresses but John McCain with all his evident emotional difficulties is president.
If that happens then Obama's "friends" will have much to think about. pl