Activist Chicago Priest Is Accused of Sexual Abuse

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, an influential Catholic priest with an activist streak, has stepped except for his parish on Chicago’s South Facet whereas the authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago examine an allegation that he sexually abused a minor greater than 40 years in the past.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, informed the parishioners of St. Sabina Church, the place Father Pfleger is the senior pastor, in regards to the allegation in a letter on Tuesday, saying that the archdiocese’s Workplace for Little one Abuse Investigations and Evaluation had been notified about it the day earlier than.

The archdiocese, he mentioned, reported it to the Illinois Division of Kids and Household Companies and the Prepare dinner County State’s Lawyer’s Workplace.

The archdiocese didn’t disclose particulars of the accusation towards Father Pfleger, nor did the state’s legal professional’s workplace, which mentioned it had referred the matter to the Chicago Police Division. The Police Division mentioned it had opened an investigation however declined to launch extra info.

In his letter, Cardinal Cupich mentioned that Father Pfleger’s “guilt or innocence shouldn’t be assumed.”

“Father Pfleger has agreed to cooperate absolutely with my request and can reside away from the parish whereas this matter is investigated,” Cardinal Cupich wrote.

Father Pfleger responded to a request for remark by referring to a Facebook post during which he mentioned he was “devastated, harm and sure indignant, however I’m an individual of religion, I Belief God.” He requested parishioners to hope for him and for the one that had accused him.

“I’m blessed with good management and superb members, whom I like,” he wrote.

Father Pfleger, 71, has drawn consideration for his unorthodox method to activism. He was appointed pastor of St. Sabina in 1981 at age 31, six years after he started working on the parish, in line with the archdiocese.

The parish, within the Auburn Gresham neighborhood of Chicago, has about 2,000 parishioners, most of whom are Black.

Father Pfleger has lengthy been outspoken on the problems of race, poverty and equality, main marches, writing opinion articles and raising money to be provided as rewards for info to assist clear up homicides and different violent crimes.

He has staged sit-in protests at drug paraphernalia outlets and painted over liquor billboards in poor neighborhoods. In a single marketing campaign, Father Pfleger paid prostitutes for their time so he might preach to them and assist them discover a path out of poverty and drug dependancy. Within the late Nineteen Nineties, he made nationwide headlines for taking over “The Jerry Springer Show,” protesting the best way it inspired violence.

Most just lately, he led a silent march on North Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s costliest purchasing district, on New Yr’s Eve to name consideration to the greater than 750 homicides that had occurred within the metropolis final 12 months.

At instances, his activism has defied the church management. In 2008, he was briefly placed on leave after he mocked Hillary Clinton in a sermon at Trinity United Church of Christ, President Barack Obama’s former church.

Based on a biography on the St. Sabina website, Father Pfleger adopted two sons, in 1981 and 1992.

“This has been a really tough week,” Kimberly Lymore, the affiliate minister at St. Sabina, mentioned at a information convention on Wednesday on the church’s entrance steps. “On Tuesday, we had been informed that our beloved pastor had stepped away from the church.”

Ms. Lymore mentioned that Father Pfleger was absolutely cooperating with the investigation and was not permitted to talk about the matter.

“We boldly stand behind our senior pastor, we don’t consider the accusation,” Ms. Lymore mentioned. “Pastor Pfleger’s 45 years of ministry speaks for itself. We hope that the investigation can be swift and neutral, and we all know he’ll absolutely be exonerated.”

Requested in regards to the allegations towards Father Pfleger, Larry Antonsen, a frontrunner of the Chicago chapter of the Survivors Community of these Abused by Clergymen, mentioned he applauded anybody who comes ahead to report abuse, even many years later.

“Lots of people are saying, ‘It was 40 years in the past’ and, ‘Why did they wait so lengthy?’” mentioned Mr. Antonsen, who was sexually abused by a spiritual order priest when he was in highschool. “However most individuals don’t understand that’s common, that’s fairly frequent.”

Mr. Antonsen mentioned he handled anger over his abuse for years and did report it, however “it didn’t go very far.”

“I’m one of many fortunate ones,” he mentioned. “There’s lots of people which have gone to their graves as a result of they couldn’t cope with the guilt and the disgrace.”

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