Neil Steinberg has a good column on Rev. Michael Pfleger:

Here I start to grope, but then I’m Jewish. If you’re Catholic, you might know a few more, but the point is, Pfleger is one of a handful of prominent priests in Chicago.

Why is that?

Because of the decades of work he has put in at St. Sabina’s, a gritty South Side parish where the faithful do not always find themselves basking in the attention of the Mother Church.

Are Pfleger’s tactics at times extreme? Absolutely. As someone who tagged along while he burst into the apartments of drug dealers — gosh, I hope they were drug dealers — I got the sense that this is a man infused with fervor to make life better for his community right now. Does he always respect church hierarchy? Alas, no.

For a richer sense of Pfleger’s passion, be sure to check out the Reader‘s 1989 profile (“Father Pfleger, 40, who looks a little like a clerical version of Barry Manilow”). He gets a lot of heat for being a publicity hound and for saying inflamatory things, but crusaders are different from the rest of us–most of them, quite frankly, are a bit loopy. If you spend your life doing things people tell you not to do, like fighting your seminary to keep living on the West Side, you end up doing and saying things you probably shouldn’t have said even in a more tolerant universe. Having a thick skin keeps you from getting cut, but sometimes you don’t notice important taps on the shoulder. But please do read Steinberg’s column and McClory’s profile, they’re nice correctives during a campaign season where clergymen and politicians are getting tossed from the wagon right and left for a phrase or two.