April 22, 2021
By Sam Kelly and Grace Asiegbu
Cardinal Blase Cupich has lashed out at “intimidating tactics” by supporters of the Rev. Michael Pfleger.
Days after Chicago’s cardinal lashed out at “intimidating tactics” by supporters of the Rev. Michael Pfleger, the current pastor at St. Sabina’s church said he has instructed parishioners to express themselves “respectfully.”
Last week, Cardinal Blase Cupich blasted attempts to influence an investigation into Pfleger as “offensive and an injustice,” citing a coordinated effort to “flood the archdiocese’s phone lines dedicated to receiving calls from victims and civil authorities.”
Magwaza, who is filling in for Pfleger during the investigation, said he received the cardinal’s letter on April 13 and has since been telling parishioners to vouch for Pfleger by “respectfully and peacefully asking [the review board] to expedite the investigation.”
The St. Sabina website’s homepage has a link to Cupich’s letter and a message directing parishioners to write directly to the archdiocese review board instead of calling. A formal letter of support is available for downloading.
Pfleger, the longtime pastor at St. Sabina known for his activism against gun violence, was accused in January of sexually abusing two brothers over 40 years ago. In March, a 59-year-old man came forward and said Pfleger abused him when he was 18.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said they did not find Pfleger posed a current risk to the community, but Pfleger has remained away from the parish as the review board continues its own investigation.
A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago said Thursday there is no deadline for the investigation.
Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said he thinks St. Sabina’s previous campaigns to support Pfleger were “misguided.”
“I totally understand when this stuff hits close to home, when it’s someone who you think you know and is creating that negative effect,” Hiner said at a news conference Thursday. “But there are ways to support someone like Father Pfleger that don’t intimidate witnesses and victims into silence. And what’s happening right now is quite the opposite.
“They’re trying to show vocal support for a man.,” he added. “We’ve always showed vocal support for their communities. I totally understand that. It’s tough. But the fact is, three men have come forward.”