The Rev. Michael Pfleger, the senior pastor of the St. Sabina parish in Chicago, will be reinstated to active ministry, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich announced Monday.
Pfleger, a longtime activist on Chicago’s South Side, has gained a national reputation for speaking out on policing, gun violence, community inequality and other issues.
Three men have alleged they were sexually abused by the priest in the 1970s. “I am innocent of those charges and accusations,” Pfleger said Monday on the steps of his church. “And I cannot tell you how grateful I am to God and to all those who prayed for me and supported me through this painful time.”
Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, said in a letter to the church community that an independent review board reviewed the cases and found “insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”
Pfleger will return to his position the weekend of June 5, the letter said.
The full text of the Cupich letter:
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