Fighting Father Pfleger seeks an end to Chicago's violence

crime | Jun 29, 2012 | By Martin Barillas

Chicago, that city of big shoulders on the shore of Lake Michigan, was rocked by the senseless killing of 7-year-old Heaven Sutton. The little girl was selling cold drinks and snacks from beneath a canopy at the front of the building where she lived. Her mother and other people were with her when two men walked up to the group and opened fire on her on the evening of June 27. Chicago police reportedly have no suspects at this time.

Father Michael Pfleger, a sometimes controversial Catholic priest who led the congregation at St Sabina parish on the south side of Chicago for decades until April 2011 when he fell afoul of Cardinal Francis George, says he wants to take on the causes of violence that brings down so many young people in Chicago. Pfleger says he wants to bring together "churches, synagogues, and mosques" in a coalition to uproot the violence that plagues some of the poorest in the Windy City.  Civic organizations, such as CeaseFire, will not be able to bring a halt to the killing said Pfleger. In a TV interview, Pfleger said "This crime thing is not going to be solved by police, or CeaseFire; it's going to be stopped by communities."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke in a press conference and condemned the killings, saying "Who dare you?" to the killers of little Heaven. Father Pfleger said in an interview "I see and I hear the anger and the passion, and that's good and it's important. We've got to be angry at this. But now we got to say what do we do to solve it?"

Father Pfleger has now been named co-pastor of St Sabina parish, but also he has also been asked by the Archdiocese of Chicago to take this greater role.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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