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Archdiocese suspends outspoken priest

Parish council chair Isadore Glover Jr. with supporters of the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who refused to leave his Chicago parish. Parish council chair Isadore Glover Jr. with supporters of the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who refused to leave his Chicago parish. (M. Spencer Green/Associated Press)
Associated Press / April 29, 2011

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CHICAGO — An activist Catholic priest who made headlines when he mocked Hillary Rodham Clinton during her presidential campaign was suspended by the Archdiocese of Chicago on Wednesday because of a disagreement over a proposed transfer from his South Side church.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger recently has said he would leave the church rather than be removed from St. Sabina, where he has been pastor for more than 30 years.

Earlier this year, Cardinal Francis George offered Pfleger the presidency of a Catholic high school near the church.

“If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church and are therefore not able to pastor a Catholic parish,’’ George wrote.

The cardinal said that while Pfleger has been suspended from his priestly duties, he retains the office of pastor while temporarily without permission to function.

Telephone calls to Pfleger for comment on the archdiocese’s action were not immediately returned.

However, in a statement read outside St. Sabina, associate pastor Kimberly Lymore said Pfleger has “given his life to this community.’’ She said Pfleger is upset and “in shock, just as we all were.’’

Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Burritt said no further information would be released.

Pfleger has gained national attention for his protests on everything from gun violence to drug paraphernalia to Jerry Springer’s television show, and he has often appeared with major civil-rights leaders.

It has long appeared that he has had a strained relationship with the Chicago Archdiocese.

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