Father Michael Pfleger
Father Michael Pfleger is “sad, disappointed, angry and insulted” that Cardinal Blase Cupich prohibited Dr. Cornel West, professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Princeton University, from speaking at St. Sabina’s Black History month series as he has done for the past 25 years.
When contacted, the Archdiocese of Chicago issued this statement to the Chicago Crusader, saying the rules are clear.
“The Archdiocese of Chicago follows the guidance of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on inviting candidates for political office to speak to our parishioners or on our premises.
“In keeping with that guidance, all candidates for an office must be invited at the same meeting or in a series of meetings held by the parish.”
Dr. West first filed for his candidacy as a presidential candidate for the Green Party on June 14, 2023, but switched to the Independent Party on October 5, 2023.
When Pfleger received a call around noon, Thursday, February 1, from the Archdiocese prohibiting Dr. West from speaking on Sunday, February 4, he told the representative that West was not going to talk about his run for the presidency but rather about African American boys.
In an interview with the Chicago Crusader, Pfleger said, “Dr. West being cancelled by the Archdiocese was not only a disappointment for me but for our congregation. We were robbed of the opportunity to be poured into by one of America’s great ‘Truth Tellers’ and a man who is deeply rooted in his faith.”
Apologizing to West for being banned, and to the congregation, Pfleger said “Unlike many, many churches, we have never allowed someone to come to this pulpit and campaign and ask for votes. This is a sacred desk, and I respect it as such.
“I apologize to this congregation to be looked upon as if we are not mature enough to know who we vote for and who best serves us in our community and not being told who to vote for by this church,” Pfleger said, standing at the pulpit rather than in the middle of the sanctuary.
“Dr. West will come back to St. Sabina, that I assure you.”
“When I laid down on the floor in 1975 and submitted to the gospel, I promised and committed myself to tell the truth and to speak God’s truth for the rest of my life no matter the cost or what came with it.”
Faced with a vacancy for a third guest speaker for Black History Month on Sunday, February 4, Pfleger said, “To my haters, by the time you hear my message, you will have wished Dr. West had spoken. You got me, Dr. Pfleger,” he announced to a standing ovation. “Dr. West will come back to St. Sabina.”
Pfleger titled his sermon, “Exposing the Lies.” Explaining, he said, “I think we can never really understand the depth, the significance, or the necessity of Black History without understanding the flaws of American history.”
This country, he said, was built on a “cracked foundation caused by a commitment to both white supremacy and the right to own human beings.”
Referring to the writing of Thomas Jefferson, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all were created equally, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
“These words are both beautiful and they are poetic, but they are a lie,” Pfleger said. “The failures of this country never intended for all people to have these rights. In fact, they didn’t consider everyone to be fully human. That’s the Constitution.
“The first president of this United States, George Washington, who we like to deceivably call Honest George,” owned slaves in 1789. When laws were passed in Philadelphia against owning slaves, Washington claimed he was a resident of Virginia and that he was in Philadelphia because he was the president.”
Pfleger said George Washington’s wife went to Virginia every six months to retain his residency there, and when Washington died, he still owned 300 slaves. He juxtaposed this to the wording on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….”
Pfleger said, “That too is a lie. The people in power never, ever wanted everyone to have the same economic opportunity. The struggle in America has always been power and money.
“They did not want democracy where everyone would be on equal footing and opportunity, rather, they believed the government should be run by a few wealthy plutocrats,” said Pfleger. “That was the seed on which this government grew.”
Quoting Dr. King, Pfleger said, “America, while growing leaps and bounds in science, technology and medicine, America remains morally bankrupt.”
Saying the founders of this country made money off the backs of enslaved Africans, and the first people who came here, Native Americans, Pfleger said “Our foundation, the roots of which this country was built [upon] a lie; yet democracy tried to grow in spite of government.”
Pfleger said anything that is founded on a lie “is not able to grow anything healthy” including a healthy marriage, relationships, business, or religion on a lie.”
Today, he said, “We have two corrupt (political) parties which are committed to continue the cracked foundation this government was birthed out of…that spend billions of dollars exploiting other countries, sending arms across the world.
“We are the No. 1 arms dealer in the world, sending billions to Israel and Ukraine while millions of people in America are hungry, homeless and uneducated.”
That, he said, is why he is saying “no money for the homeless, no convention” here in Chicago in August.
Pfleger said he’s not trying to help either party, just the poor, the disenfranchised and the abandoned in this country.