Is the Catholic Church Racist?


By Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World  – the picture above (left) is from the press conference held for Father Pfleger in Chicago

I went to the press conference being held on behalf of Father Michael Pfleger, the respected Catholic Priest on the Southside of Chicago.  In case you don’t know, Father Pfleger’s church, St. Sabina, is a predominantly black church and his members love him.  He has served the South Side of Chicago with the kind of courage only shown by a true spiritual soldier.  He has stood strong with mothers as their sons have died and has put himself in the middle of nearly every kind of devastation that plagues inner cities across America.

But as most of us know, a true soldier and man of God is going to eventually be undermined by the establishment.  Father Pfleger was recently suspended by the Catholic Church for refusing to leave the members of St. Sabina and going to another church.  The parishioners were further disrespected by Cardinal Francis George when he (according to an email I received today from community activist Mark Allen) sent another priest to replace Father Pfleger, allegedly without giving any notice to the staff. 

Whether the note from Allen can be confirmed or not is not the issue for me.  The fact is that with every decision being made by Cardinal George, I am losing more and more respect for Catholic Church leadership in Chicago – it seems that their mission has nothing to do with God and everything to do with egos.  Here are thoughts on the situation with Father Pfleger that come to mind:


1) The members of St. Sabina should leave their church and find another way to connect with God.  There is almost nothing holy about the behavior of Cardinal George, for he is representing the very worst that the Catholic Church has to offer.  Bullies in the pulpit must be confronted, even if they claim to be ordained by God.

2) The behavior of the church is clearly racist.  One has to wonder if St. Sabina would be served with such disrespect if it were not predominantly black.  Also, one can’t help but wonder if Father Pfleger is being punished (actually being treated like a n*gger lover) for spending too much time around black folks and caring about the issues in our community.  If he were doing half as much work for white kids in the suburbs, his church would hail him as a hero.

3) Hypocrisy abounds in this situation.  I find it astonishing that the very same church that had no problem covering up for pastors who’ve had sex with little children would punish the pastor who has done as much for the children of Chicago as any leader in the last 30 years.  They should be ashamed for their behavior.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


Filed under African Americans

12 responses to “Is the Catholic Church Racist?

  1. Preach!! I live on the South Side of Chicago and I remember when Father Pfleger protested against crack pipes being sold right beside candy in various stores and gas stations throughout Chicago during the 80s and he won. I have nothing but respect for the Father and wish him further success in his endeavors.

  2. The tragic thing is that in order to maintain papal infallibility (and this papal supremacy – esp. in Western Christendom, as the East has already cast out Rome [circa 1054]) the Roman Pope MUST maintain White Supremacy. Why else did Pope John Paul chide Latin American adherents of Liberation Theology? Why else would this new Pope chastise Father Pfleger? Or are we to say it’s a bad thing for a priest to bear witness to the Gospel?

  3. DrEnergy

    Unfortunately, this can be deemed as another blatant, yet subtle, act of racist behavior that we, as a people, have been victimized by for over 4 centuries in this part of God’s planet. Until we become aggregate, so as to be able to come to terms on when & what we will do to further our own destiny in the US our “social & economic well being” will always be at risk. All of the insane events happening before our very eyes today (birthier movement, Trump wanting to see Obama’s Harvard transcripts, etc.) merely point to a plan orchestrated by the dominant culture to “block” the chances for Obama to be re-elected for a 2nd term.

  4. raingirl2

    Gods blood covers father Pfleger, he knows that there is nothing that the racist cardinal George can do to stop the mission given to him by God. What the cardinal should do is de-frock himself and the plethora of nasty pedophiles who filled to many positions throughout history in the catholic church destroying the lives of many young boys. God is not pleased with the catholic church and some day it will be revealed to the world. It’s my opinion that the Catholic church is nothing more than a mafia operation who uses its power to intimidate weak people and psychologically destroy any independent thinking. The Latin community is filled with pedophiles and sex offenders, why obviously because the catholic church sees nothing wrong with deviant sexual behavior. As far as I am concerned this organization (business) is as corrupt as any thug or cartel ever dreamed of becoming. I love father Pfleger and I have no fear that he will succeed where ever he finds a NEW HOME. His parishioners will follow him wherever he goes. He has proven to the City of Chicago and surrounding areas, that he is truly a man of God. He will be able to really show off his new walk, talk, and commitment to a true and living God. It’s his time to get out of the “organization” He has work to do God is speaking to him right now. God bless Father Pfleger.

  5. Point noire

    Dr Watkins until now i had a lot of respect for you but it seems the many respect you get is corrupting your judgement Reverend Fathers are not Ordained to remain in one place for the rest of their lives no matter what the Parishioners think or say,when people of your status ask a question it can be misconstrued as a Statement you have just called the Catholic church in its entirety a Racist Church and that is too bad a church that has a black Cardinal and a large number of Black Bishops, your statements does not bridge any Divide since every thing is either black or white to you

  6. Not only is Father Phegler being crucified for emppowering and supporting the Black Community, he also aligns himself with other unpopular figures that that the staus quo disdains. Anyone that supports the Honorable Minister Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright are certain to feel the wrath of the power structure of this country. Maybe one day these so-called men will start calling things exactly as they are!!! This situation should be referred to as the crucicfiction by association.

  7. Samantha

    You undermine your own reporting when you make broad and generalized statements without doing thorough research. I’m speaking on a lot of your posts, not just this one. You’re a grown man, and highly respected. I know this is your blog, and not necessarily a “news” source, but you make statements that your readers may regard as truth that are not necessarily true.

  8. Not only is Father Phegler being crucified by empowering the Black Community on Chicago’s south-side, he is being punished for his association with the Honorable Minister Farrakhan and the Honorable Jeremiah Wright. It is apparent that anyone who aligns themslves with these men are penalized and ostracised by society’s power structure. Let’s be men about and call it what it really is; “The crucifiction by association.

  9. Teresa

    It is unclear from your post Dr. Watkins, wherein the racism exists. As any Roman Catholic can tell you, parishioners do not select their parish priest, rather that appointment is made by, and at the sole discretion of, the bishop. Priests serve where they are told, not where they choose.

  10. Antoine

    I read the letter from the Cardinal to the priest. I think Dr. Watkins has this one wrong. The Priest spoke out of place and as such was reprimanded for those comments. I’m not Catholic, but understand there is an order to things. Despite his commitment to that community, as a priest it is not his place to buck the powers that be and try to control his assignment. Sad part is, according to the Cardinal’s comments, the priest had not been reassigned but had been requested to consider it. Not really how Dr. Watkins represents it in this article. The priest needs to humble himself and admit his error. Eitherway though, it looks like this community has lost his services as their priest. Even with the priest’s admission on his part, the Cardinal can not let him stay there. It could incite similar behavior from other priests. Had he kept his mouth shut or voiced his opposition in private with the church, the outcome might have been different.

  11. afropick1

    Is the Catholic Church Racist? ILL ANSWER WITH A QUESTION…ARE DOLLAR BILLS GREEN? yes!!!

  12. melly-mel

    While I know that the Father doesn’t want to leave his parish, and that his parishoners want him to stay, but the Catholic church moves people around after a certain amount of time, and he’s been there a long time. What I will find interesting is how the congregation will handle this. Will A-A’s be able to stand together on this and get Father back?

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