It was a year ago Tuesday, May 23, when Cardinal Blaise Cupich reinstated Father Michael Pfleger as pastor of Saint Sabina following a five-month long investigation that concluded there was “insufficient reason” to suspect he abused two Black Texas brothers.
In addressing the 2022 Saint Sabina Academy eighth grade graduating class on May 22, his 73rd birthday, Pfleger revealed when the Cardinal kicked him out of the church based on “two fools, two liars” who made accusations against him, while he lived on the 34th floor of a building downtown and watched his name going across television news banners, he made up his mind to commit suicide.
The pressure, the loneliness, got the best of him, especially since he couldn’t tell the world the sex abuse accusations were not true.
“I was sitting there all by myself. I was mad at God. I told God I didn’t want to talk to Him. There was a time when one night I thought ‘I can’t take this anymore. I just want to take my life.’
“I was on the 34th floor, and I thought about jumping off that balcony. I was going to do it in the middle of the night…” so as not to traumatize people in the morning. He even set his alarm at 3 a.m.
Pfleger asked his nephew Chazz Clark to stand, and CJ, a friend, saying they would always visit him at the apartment.
Pfleger said he was thinking, “I can’t take this anymore. I was crying, weeping, depressed. I was down. Nobody had ever come to my condo after 8 or 9 p.m., but that night, Pfleger said Chazz called him around 10:30 p.m. telling him, ‘the doorman is bringing something up to you.’
When Pfleger told Chazz the doorman wouldn’t do that because of COVID-19, Chazz asked him to come to the door. When Pfleger opened it, Chazz and CJ were outside and told him they had come to spend the night with him.
Pfleger told the students that true experience to show them how one decision can change their lives.
He also talked to them about the challenges of a new world we live in, including addictions and social media influencers who can lead hundreds down the wrong road, like to The Bean where a 16-year-old was fatally shot.
Saying today’s children are growing up in a very “challenging and difficult time” Pfleger warned, “We live in a society that has become selfish and self-centered. We worship at the altars of me, myself, and I. It’s all about me. Our world evolves around me.
“It’s a difficult time. The lines between right and wrong have been blurred. Standards have been lowered and all in the name of freedom. Values have been lost. We live in a wave of kind of anything goes that has seemingly taken over. As a result, we find ourselves in this world acting out of emotion and acting…. We’re moving with the crowd, who is around us and how we feel at this moment.”
Referring to the Millennium Park shooting near The Bean where nine people were shot, two fatally, Pfleger said he made it clear to the mayor and the police superintendent that he did not agree with the mayor’s issuing a new curfew for those 12 or older which bans their being in any public place or in any establishment between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. seven days a week. The City Council delayed a vote on her ordinance fearing it would lead to racial profiling by cops.
Pfleger said he doesn’t agree that “killers should be down there doing whatever they want to do. I will continue to say ‘where are the parents’ because if I were 12 years old and down at Millennium Park and stuff was down there, my mama would have come down to Millennium Park and beat me with The Bean. I want to find a way to hold parents responsible. If you say I can’t control my kid, then I need to beat you.”
Pfleger said the 400 youth who went to The Bean didn’t have a problem. They went there because they felt safe there “because they don’t feel safe in Englewood or Auburn Gresham, Lawndale or Roseland.”
Looking at the eighth-grade students dressed in their caps and gowns, Pfleger said one brother can say ‘come on let’s do this;’ so, 10 or 12 people can move a whole group.
Pfleger said he has spoken to entertainers Common, and Chance, and others who said they would give a free concert and if there were no problems, they would come back next month and give another concert.
Pfleger asked why aren’t the children given options? “Why are we not keeping our communities safe so they can have fun right at home rather than paying bus fare or Uber to go downtown. We are living in very difficult times.”
He said it is extremely difficult for youth growing up when social media has become their teacher.
“Social media becomes a source of information,” Pfleger said, ticking off the names of different social media platforms that become truth to the teens.
“Facts and data aren’t important anymore. If somebody says something about you on Facebook…, and others ask ‘you going to let them talk about you?’ the next thing you know somebody gets shot over something stupid. You have to be man enough to say I don’t care what anybody says about me, I know who I am,” he told the students.
Pfleger warned students, “You can’t serve two masters. You can’t serve God and man. You can’t serve the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. You have to make up your mind…either you follow God or the devil….
“Don’t call yourself a Christian when the world is running your life. You’re a fraud. A lot of people from church call themselves a Christian. Just because you come to church doesn’t make you a Christian. It’s how you live when you walk out those doors. That is what makes you a Christian.”
“You know why the devil hates you so much as a Black man? Because he sees all the genius, all the power, all the strength inside of you. You come from millions of ancestors, came with chains at the bottom of a ship and beatings and lynchings. You came through all that and yet you survived. That is why, the devil knows how powerful you are,” Pfleger said.
“The devil is afraid of you.
“Where African Americans have been able to have access, they have dominated. That is why they try to cut off access to corporate America and to boardrooms,” Pfleger said.
“As soon as that door starts to open, they know you all will take over because you are brilliant. You are a genius. You are the best that America has. That is why the devil wants to kill you before you rule this country. You got to let the devil know you are too important for him to destroy you.”
He encouraged graduates, saying they must tell the devil, the naysayers, “You are not going to take my dreams, my property, my destiny. I am going to rule,” he bellowed.
In closing, Pfleger admonished graduates, “One choice can change your whole life. I know people who made one mistake and they’re in prison right now” and others who are dead now. “Your life, my life, is in your hands.”