But Pfleger got few Valentines for his trouble. In fact he got swift boated.
The Illinois State Rifle Association issued a press release trumpeting, "Chicago Priest Calls for Murder of Gun Shop Owner" (murder as in "snuff") and launched a media event.
Gun shop owner John Riggio hired an attorney who called Pfleger's statements "alarming" and "slanderous" and threatened legal action.
And gun lovers deluged the archdiocese with complaints and expressions of outrage.
(Don't underestimate gun lover rage says Philip Andrew who survived the 1988 Laurie Dann shootings in suburban Chicago to become an antigun activist. He has received Nazi post cards, bullets with his name on them and been told by the husband of a state Senate candidate that Laurie Dann should have had better aim. )
"I am a student of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and have always and will always preach non-violence," writes Pfleger--who claims ignorance of the street meaning of "snuff"--on the St. Sabina web site.
"I am insulted by this character assassination, but not surprised. The tactic is to divert the attention off the real issue, easy access to guns and turn it on me. It will not work!!!"
But unfortunately the tactic does work.
In June, Pfleger's superior, Cardinal Francis George, felt compelled to share his nonsupport for the priest by telling Chicago newspapers that "Publicly delivering a threat against anyone's life betrays the civil order and is morally outrageous, especially if this threat came from a priest."
Is the world's most powerful religious organization bowing to the gun lobby? Like the world's most powerful legislative body has?
Privately Chicago archdiocese priests say no.
Key word: privately.
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