WLS-TV, Ch. 7 [Chicago IL]
May 24, 2021
CHICAGO (WLS) — Father Michael Pfleger has been reinstated as pastor of Saint Sabina Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side.
Pfleger had been under investigation by the Chicago Archdiocese after two men came forward claiming they there were sexually assaulted by Pfleger when they were board.
An Archdiocese Review Board has found that there is “no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”
An emotional Pfleger spoke through tears Monday in front of the church where he has worked for decades.
“I’ve been discouraged at times. I’ve wanted to give up,” Pfleger said. “And to be honest with you, there were some times I would’ve gived up. But I love this church too much to walk away from it. Your support and love and my faith have kept me going. I’m so relieved and glad that this nightmare is over.”
Back in January, two adult brothers from Texas filed complaints against the iconic South Side pastor. Both men said they were molested by Pfleger in the 1970s.
Pfleger has maintained his innocence.
The accusers’ attorney said his clients are both very disappointed, but the brothers are still happy they came forward to speak their truth.
“My clients provided details not only of the sexual abuse, but they could tell you what Father Pfleger’s bedroom looked like in the rectory 40 years ago,” said Gene Hollander, attorney for the accusers. “They could describe the artwork that was hanging on the walls. They could tell you what was in his record collection. So that information is very, very telling.”
Cardinal Blase Cupich said he asked Pfleger to take the next two weeks to prepare himself spiritually and emotionally to return, realizing that these months have taken a great toll on him.
Full letter from Cardinal Blase Cupich:
Dear Members of the Faith Community of St. Sabina,
Thank you for your patience and prayers during the absence of your senior pastor. Father Michael Pfleger. As you know, earlier this year the archdiocese received allegations of child sexual abuse against Father Pfleger. In accordance with our policies for the protection of children and youth, the archdiocese Independent Review Board assisted by our Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review and outside investigators conducted a thorough review of the allegations.
The Review Board has concluded that there is no reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations. Having given careful consideration to their decision, which I accept, I now inform you that I am reinstating Father Pfleger to his position of Senior Pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, effective the weekend of June 5-6, 2021.1 have asked Father Pfleger to take the next two weeks to prepare himself spiritually and emotionally to return, realizing that these months have taken a great toll on him. He has agreed to do so.
The weekend he will return is the Feast of Corpus Christi when we celebrate that we are one in the Body of Christ, sharing each other’s joys and sorrows. It is in this spirit that I ask you to welcome back Father Pfleger, thereby helping him take up again the ministry that has distinguished St. Sabina in the archdiocese and beyond.
This past year has been a time of great trial for us all, and our church, our city and society are in need of your witness to Jesus’ love. Please know you will have my support and prayers as you continue to be a light in the community.
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago