By Chinta Strausberg
When Father Michael L. Pfleger learned that over the last nine months, the Biden administration has approved nearly $3 billion in military aid for Ukraine’s effort to counter Russia’s cruel and aggressive attacks, he asked why can’t the President spend some of that money on the South and West Sides of Chicago where the needs are great, like poverty, unemployment, food insecurity and homelessness.
“We can do both,” Father Pfleger said referring to his suggestion that the Biden administration can send some of that money to Chicago where gun violence is on the rise and to Ukraine to help defend that country’s democracy. However, Father Pfleger said Americans have seen too much unfairness to the point where they have lost hope and cannot believe in fairness anymore.
“We’ve seen neglected neighborhoods for decades, and we’re told there is no money to fix them, but we found millions and millions of dollars to send across the ocean to Ukraine,” he said during his Resurrection Day sermon on Sunday, April 17.
Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Father Pfleger described him as a “terrorist and evil man, and I have no problem helping Ukraine, but aid should be sent to both and not either or. If we can help Ukraine, we can help the South Side and the West Side of Chicago. If we can help people across the ocean, why in the hell can’t we help Black and brown people in America,” he bellowed.
“It is interesting to me that we are so vocal about what Russia is doing trying to take over land in Ukraine, but isn’t that what we did at the Plymouth Rock?” Father Pfleger told his congregation.
“Isn’t that what we did when we went into Mexico? We suddenly said, ‘This is America.’ Did we forget about the Louisiana Purchase? Did we forget what America did? It’s hard to be a moral force when you are immoral. We’ve seen too much.
“We’ve seen the double standards in the legal system and the tale of two cities,” Father Pfleger pointed out. He said we have seen the flight of businesses and the streets “where we can’t even get trees replaced and streetlights, while downtown people are sweeping the streets with street sweepers. We’ve seen too much.
“We’ve seen the difference in the education and resources, a Whitney Young, a Walter Payton, and then there is a Hirsch High School and a Harlan. We’ve seen the food disparities, the health disparities, the mental health disparities on the South and the West Sides different from the North Side and South Loop. We’ve seen too much every day, and just like those women at the tomb, we find it hard to believe,” Father Pfleger said referring to the three women who went to Jesus’ tomb.
“Because of all the present traumatic stress, we find our lives—like those women—getting up doing what we have to do…getting up in the morning pressing through our day trying to be mothers…fathers…trying to take care of our families…pressing through because we’ve seen so much, and it has taken a toll on our hearts.
“Yes, like those women at the tomb, we come into this sanctuary this morning, and we proclaim Jesus is not dead…that Jesus is alive. He has risen just like he said he would.”