Fr Michael Pfleger, a popular Chicago priest and outspoken advocate against gun violence, gangs, poverty and racism, has stepped aside from his ministry after the Chicago Archdiocese said it received an allegation that the priest had sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago.
Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich announced the move in a January 5 letter to Fr Pfleger’s parishioners at St Sabina and members of the parish school, St Sabina Academy. The 71-year-old priest has led the historically African American parish since 1981.
“In keeping with our child protection policies, I have asked Fr Pfleger to step aside from ministry following receipt by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review of an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago,” the cardinal wrote.
In a January 6 post on Facebook, Fr Pfleger said, “I am devastated, hurt and yes angry, but I am first, a person of faith,” he wrote, urging people to trust God and to keep him and the parish of St. Sabina in their prayers.
A statement issued January 5 by the cabinet of St Sabina’s said they believe the allegations against their senior pastor “are unfounded” and they said they “boldly stand behind the integrity, passion, work and ministry” of Fr Pfleger.