Inspired by a true story, The Father Clements Story is about a black Chicago priest who fights the local Church hierarchy for the right to adopt a son. Confronted with the growing problem of homeless black children, Father George Clements (Louis Gossett Jr) - the unconventional priest of Chicago's Holy Angels Church - asks his parishioners to consider adoption. Meeting only apathy, Clements angrily claims he will adopt. The statement draws the attention of the local media and Cardinal Cody (Carroll O'Connor), Clements' superior and adversary. Cody forbids Clements to adopt, claiming it is a violation of Catholic Church law. When the Vatican learns and approves of Clements' actions, he begins proceedings to adopt Joey (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), a rebellious and difficult teenager. Joey's former involvement with a local gang tests their relationship as they try to become father and son under the scrutiny of the Church and the community.