CHICAGO — The Archdiocese of Chicago is reinstating the Rev. Michael Pfleger to his post as senior pastor at St. Sabina following decades-old child sex allegations.
Pfleger has been sidelined for over five months after two brothers accused him of child sex abuse over several years at the beginning of career. A third man accused Pfleger of abuse starting when he was 18.
A letter to the community from Cupich says a review of abuse allegations against Pfleger shows “no reason to suspect” he is guilty of the accusations.
Cupich has asked Pfleger to take a couple weeks to prepare himself to return and he has agreed. He will be reinstated as pastor the weekend of June 5 and 6.
St. Sabina scheduled a news conference at 3 p.m. Monday in which Pfleger gave his first public statement in months.
“I am innocent of those charges and accusations and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to God and all those who supported me and prayed to me during this time,” Pfleger said. “This has been the most difficult and trying time of my life. I have been frustrated, I have been angry, I have been depressed and I have been discouraged.”
Pfleger said that he has a renewed commitment to combat gun violence in the city.
“It is out of control. We’re going to get more aggressive against the violence. I’m going to become more aggressive against guns,” Pfleger said. “And we’re going to continue to fight every injustice we see.”
The entire letter from Cardinal Blase Cupich below.
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 insufficient 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. I 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
The attorney representing the two brothers who accused Pfleger issued the following statement.
They provided detailed accounts of the sexual molestation as well as information that only these victims would be aware of. My clients’ not only corroborated each other, but both clients underwent polygraph examinations and passed. Additionally, the sexual abuse was corroborated by a third victim who was in no way connected to the brothers.