Boston, Mass., Dec 12, 2022 / 14:00 pm (CNA).
An independent review board in the Archdiocese of Chicago has said there is “no reason to suspect” Father Michael Pfleger is guilty of allegations that he sexually abused a minor more than 30 years ago, Cardinal Blase Cupich announced Saturday.
Pfleger, a famous Chicago priest known for his social justice activism, has now been exonerated on four different sexual abuse allegations brought against him since 2021.
The inner-city St. Sabina Catholic Church pastor was reinstated as pastor in June 2021 after it was announced in January 2021 that an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor over 40 years ago was brought against him. Two other accusations were raised against him following the January announcement, and it was determined by the archdiocese’s independent review board that the allegations lacked merit.
Pfleger has consistently denied each of the allegations.
In an email to CNA Monday, Pfleger said that he is “just grateful to have this over with … it is painful to have your name, reputation, and character assaulted so publicly knowing you are innocent.”
“I hope we can create a process to protect children but also not make the priest be treated as if he is guilty until proven innocent … Many priests feel as though they are waiting targets. … Grateful that the cardinal reinstated me and grateful to my congregation that stood by me and believed in me,” he wrote.
In the archdiocese’s October announcement about the allegations against Pfleger, it said that the allegation was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and law enforcement officials, per diocesan policy.
CNA reached out to the DCFS for comment but did not immediately receive a response before publication.
In a letter to the parishioners of St. Sabina, Cupich said: “Thank you for your patience and prayers during the absence of your senior pastor, Father Michael 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 fully 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 immediately.”
Cupich noted that the investigation and suspension of duties have been difficult for Pfleger and the parishioners.
“I am committed to do everything possible to see that his good name is restored,” he said.
“In these days in which we prepare for the birth of the Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ, we recall that nothing can take away the joy of God’s love for us. My prayer is that your celebration of Christmas will be filled with the joy that belongs to those who are patient and trusting in the goodness and nearness of God,” Cupich said.
“As I assure you of my prayers, I ask that you do all you can to welcome back Father Pfleger so that he can once again take up the ministry that has distinguished St. Sabina in the archdiocese and beyond,” he said.