The Rev. Michael Pfleger, the senior pastor of the St. Sabina Parish in Chicago, has once again been asked by the Diocese of Chicago to step away from his ministry after another allegation of sex abuse against the priest surfaced.
“The abuse is alleged to have occurred more than 30 years ago. 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,” Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, said in a letter to the St. Sabina Parish community.
Cupich said that in keeping with the diocese’s child protection policies, the allegation was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and law enforcement. Pfleger – a longtime activist on Chicago’s South Side – has gained a national reputation for speaking out on issues including policing, gun violence and inequality.
Pfleger denied the allegation in a statement posted to the parish’s website, saying, “Let me be clear – I am completely innocent of this accusation. While I am confident that the new allegation will also be determined to be unfounded, this process is so unfair and painful to me and to the community I serve.
“It seems like most of my ministry I have spent fighting to stay a priest and to continue to work for justice, and to serve the good people of St. Sabina’s and our community. I cannot express how difficult, disruptive, and painful this process is to me and to those who are close to me. I am asking for your prayers and seeking God’s direction for my life and for my future in the Archdiocese of Chicago. I believe there is much more that God has called me to do to build His kingdom, I just need to know where and how.”
Pfleger’s latest accuser is a man in his late 40s who has already filed a claim with the Archdiocese of Chicago, attorney Eugene K. Hollander told CNN affiliate WLS.
Hollander said the man claims the abuse happened in the 1980s when he was a member of a children’s choir.
When reached by CNN for details, Hollander said neither he nor his client would be making any further statements. CNN has reached out to Chicago police to see if it’s investigating the allegations.
Pfleger was suspended by the diocese in 2021 after three men alleged they were sexually abused by the priest in the 1970s. In May 2021 Cupich said Pfleger would be reinstated in June after an independent review board examined the cases and found “insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations.”
Pfleger denied the allegations at the time.