Delivering a homily at a prayer service and racial justice awards ceremony honoring controversial priest Fr. Michael Pfleger, Cardinal Francis George said that he is a good pastor who “acts out of love.” The cardinal denounced social violence including abortion, which he called an obvious “racial justice issue.”
Fr. Michael Pfleger was one of six honored at the April 7 ceremony, which celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Racial Justice and also honored civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The pastor of St. Sabine Church in Chicago, Fr. Pfleger is known for his anti-gun advocacy. His advocacy and support for various pro-abortion figures such as President Barack Obama have also drawn criticism.
In remarks at the ceremony, Cardinal George said the awardees were present because they “love beyond racial and cultural divides. The Archbishop of Chicago also remarked that if Fr. Pfleger was not on the list of awardees, media interest in the event might have been “much reduced.”
“Fr. Pfleger has been a controversialist; and controversy is easier to report on than is love. Fr. Plfeger has spoken in anger, sometimes unjustly or uncharitably; and anger is easier to capture on the camera than is love.
“But Fr. Pfleger is a Catholic priest and a pastor, and in that capacity, like all good priests and pastors, he acts out of love. Ask his people. Ask the sick he has visited and the dying he has attended. Ask the troubled he has consoled. Ask the young people he has counseled and the school children he has supported.”
The priest’s opposition to killing is part of his ministry for racial justice, the cardinal explained.
“We are surrounded by killing on the streets and in the schools, by violence in homes and by abortion that kills a child in its mother’s womb. The killing of the unborn is obviously a racial justice issue when disproportionately those killed before birth come from families of racial minorities,” he continued.
“Abortion kills. It kills an unborn child, and it often kills a mother’s spirit. It kills a society that embraces it as a personal right. Abortion kills social and racial justice.”
Cardinal George congratulated all the honorees, who included Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago Joseph Perry, and described them as “signs of hope for all of us.”
Sr. Anita Baird, director of the Office for Racial Justice, was also a center of controversy because of remarks she made to LifeSiteNews.
When the news site asked about Fr. Pfleger’s support for President Obama, she said that the president is not pro-abortion but pro-choice.
"I think they are two very different things," she commented. “"To be pro-abortion is that you believe in abortion and you support it. And I don't think you'll find that the president has ever said that."
"I just think we need to be clear with our language," Sr. Baird told LifeSiteNews.
In a Wednesday statement from the Office for Racial Justice, Sr. Baird clarified her comments to the news site.
“I am affirming my belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church and understand that there can be no distinction between pro-abortion and pro-choice, because the choice at issue is the choice to kill a child.
“I also apologize to those who were scandalized by my statement,” she said.