The Archdiocese of Chicago has responded to the outrageous comments by Fr. Michael Plfeger in which he said a gun shop owner and some legislators should be “snuffed”. Now, we all know that the jargon of the street says that “snuffed” means killed, but the context of how he used is clear that he meant something like “removed from public influence” or “had their livelihood stripped away.” That doesn’t mitigate the senselessness and irresponsibility of the words, especially since they could be misconstrued by an unbalanced individual, nor does it mitigate Plfeger’s consorting with hatemongers and racists like Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan.
In any case here is the archdiocese’s relatively mild statement:
On Saturday, May 26, 2007, during an anti-gun rally at a Riverdale gun shop, Fr. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina parish, reportedly made aggressive and inappropriate statements threatening the store’s owner.
If the comments reported are accurate, and a threat was made, it is up to the civil authorities to investigate the matter and determine what if any action should be taken against Fr. Pfleger.
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, stated, “publicly delivering a threat against anyone’s life betrays the civil order and is morally outrageous, especially if this threat came from a priest. It is first of all up to the civil authorities to determine what threat might have been contained in the remarks attributed to Fr. Michael Pfleger. With that determination, the sponsors of the anti-gun rally and the Archdiocese can better decide how to respond.”
I’m not sure why the archdiocese needs to wait for the civil authorities to investigate before it can take action. Pfleger is a Catholic priest. His words are clearly documented. His previous heterodox and syncretist and publicly disobedient actions give clear cause for the cardinal to act. But as someone pointed out in an email to me, given the state the Church in Chicago is in—with the amount of heterodoxy among the clergy—that any kind of public statement from the archdiocese that is willing to acknowledge that a priest has crossed the line is a big step.