By Laura Washington November 23, 2014
“What I’m hearing so far from Archbishop Cupich is that he is not at all shy about speaking to issues,” Rev. Michael Pfleger told me last week.
The renegade priest never holds back. The longtime pastor of St. Sabina Church has rabbled and roused for social justice and change for decades. Pfleger has loudly driven a host of causes: gun control, battling street violence, denouncing racist policies and practices, championing civil rights.
The firebrand’s run-ins with retiring Cardinal Francis George nearly got him evicted from his parish.
Pfleger says he has spoken briefly with his new leader and is gratified by the archbishop’s embrace of “God’s agenda.”
Cupich has repeatedly and publicly praised Pfleger’s efforts to work with gang members, the police and activists to help cure the epidemic of violence in our communities.
“He said, yes, he knew what we had done and were doing here,” Pfleger recalled. “And we are going to talk, and he wants to talk and do more of it, and he said he’s talked to the mayor about it.”
It was a new day for Pfleger as we chatted at his South Side rectory, the chill sun glancing off the window.
For too long, he says, his church has indulged in an unacceptable “quietness” about the issues his community cares about, he said.
“The church has become so tunnel vision, and so judgmental, and
. . . almost had a spiritual laryngitis of very important issues of poverty, and violence, and guns . . .”
Pope Francis has shifted the moral ground and tapped Cupich to plant new seeds. Cupich is talking about gun violence. Poverty. Inclusion. Tolerance.
“Wow!” Pfleger exclaimed. “I’ve been screaming this for years.” He hopes to meet with Cupich soon to push for new anti-violence initiatives...."