Chicago Priest Michael Pfleger placed on leave amid new sex abuse allegation

Father Michael Pfleger speaks with ABC 7 Chicago in June 2021 about returning to the pulpit of Saint Sabina Catholic Church after he was cleared of sex abuse allegations.
Father Michael Pfleger speaks with ABC 7 Chicago in June 2021 about returning to the pulpit of Saint Sabina Catholic Church after he was cleared of sex abuse allegations. | YouTube/ABC 7 Chicago

Father Michael Pfleger, a Chicago-based Catholic priest known for his social and political activism, has been placed on leave from ministry amid new allegations of sex abuse.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago sent a letter last Saturday to the Faith Community of Saint Sabina, the congregation Pfleger serves as lead pastor, announcing "difficult news."

"The Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review has received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against him. The abuse is alleged to have occurred more than 30 years ago," wrote Cupich.

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"In keeping with our child protection policies, Father Pfleger has been asked to step aside from ministry and live away from the parish while the allegation is investigated. He has agreed to cooperate fully with this request."

In keeping with the archdiocese's policies, Cupich said the allegation was also reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and law enforcement.

While Pfleger is on leave, Father Thulani Magwaza will be an administrator and tend to the parish needs after returning from a family visit in early November. Father David Jones will serve as temporary administrator for the time being.

"The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and encourages anyone who has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee to come forward," wrote Cupich.

Pfleger was previously accused of abuse in January 2021 by two brothers who alleged that the priest had abused them over 40 years ago. But following a five-month investigation, Pfleger was cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to the pulpit of Saint Sabina that June.

"I worked to say I'm going to forgive, I'm going to let it go, I'm going pray for them and all the others who were taking delight in this," Pfleger told ABC 7 Chicago last year. "Never let temporary situations determine eternal thinking about you and your life."

Pfleger also said that during the 2021 investigation, he felt "depressed," "abandoned," "lonely" and wondered "if life is worth living."

Pfleger became a national figure in 2008 due to his support for the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. He continued to garner attention for his political and social activism.

In July 2021, weeks after returning to Saint Sabina, Pfleger's church held a gun buyback program focused on young adults and youth, allotting $25,000 to purchase firearms in hopes of getting guns off the streets.

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