Nationally known activist Chicago priest the Rev. Michael Pfleger will be reinstated as the leader of his parish after an investigation found “no reason to suspect” he sexually abused children, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced Monday.
The archdiocese said in January that leaders asked Pfleger to step aside after its Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review received an allegation that Pfleger sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago.
In a letter to the Faith Community of Saint Sabina, Cardinal Blase Cupich said he had accepted the finding of the office and the archdiocese’s Independent Review Board and was reinstating Pfleger as the South Side parish’s pastor. Cupich said the change is effective the first weekend of June.
“I have asked Father Pfleger to take the next two weeks to prepare himself spiritually and emotionally to return, realizing that these months have taken a great toll on him,” Cupich said. “He has agreed to do so.”
Parishioners tied up the archdiocese’s phone lines, held rallies, sent letters and threatened to withhold $100,000 in monthly dues.
Pfleger was ordained in 1975 and was assigned to St. Sabina Church that same year. Pfleger, became pastor six years later and has been credited with reviving the parish. Nationally, Pfleger is known for his activism and protests.
Pfleger’s attorney Jim Figliulo said he was elated his client was cleared.
“This is as strong as a conclusion of his innocence as this process permits,” Figliulo said. “He has said he is innocent. He is innocent.”
Two brothers in their 60s made the first allegations. Messages left for the brothers’ attorney, Eugene Hollander, and leaders at St. Sabina were not immediately returned Monday.
The church’s website said a news conference was planned for Monday afternoon.