“I’m back to fight for justice”. With tears in his eyes, Fr. Michael Pfleger addressed the media, community, and supporters in a press conference following his reinstatement to his role as Senior Pastor of St. Sabina Church.
After 5 months of investigation, the Archdiocese cleared Fr. Michael Pfleger of any wrongdoing of abuse fully reinstating him as senior pastor. In a letter addressed to the Faith Community of St. Sabina, Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Cupich, said, “The Review Board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations. Having given careful consideration to their decision, which I accept, I now inform you that I am reinstating Father Pfleger to his position of Senior Pastor of the Faith Community of St. Sabina, effective the weekend of June 5-6, 2021”.
“This has been the most difficult and challenging time of my life. I have been frustrated, angry, and depressed. I am a man of faith, but I am also a human being. I have been discouraged at times and wanted to give up and honestly, there have been times I would have given up, but I love this church too much to walk away from it. Your support and love and my faith have kept me going. I am so relieved and glad that this nightmare is over. “-Rev. Michael Pfleger
In January 2021, two brothers now living in Texas accused the popular and high-profile religious leader of abuse while they were teens in the 70s. Fr. Pfleger has consistently denied these allegations. An initial investigation by DCFS declared the allegations unfounded and closed its case in February, however, the archdiocese refused to reinstate Fr. Pfleger. This is not the first time the Southside parish or its pastor has been at odds with the Archdiocese.
From fighting one-sided advertisements and billboards of liquor and tobacco in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood to protesting gun shops that sell weapons to criminals, to protesting food desserts, gun violence, the influx of drugs into the community, and more, the activism displayed by the Rev. Michael Pfleger and Community of St. Sabina has repeatedly been the subject of rebuke by the Archdiocese. In addition, Fr. Pfleger has also drawn the ire of the leadership of the Chicago Catholic community for encouraging and teaching diverse theological thought by inviting guests of different faiths and denominations to speak at the southside church.
For over 40 years, Fr. Michael Pfleger has led the southside predominately Black catholic church in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood. As Pastor, Fr. Michael Pfleger has advocated for victims, fought injustices and racism, and fought for economic opportunities not only to the St. Sabina parish but for the Auburn Gresham neighborhood he has called home for the past four decades. While he says the past five months were humbling, he returns ready to continue to serve the southside community.
“I promise you that I will return with renewed energy, a deepened commitment to St. Sabina, the City of Chicago, and to this community that we serve. This has been a humbling experience one that has allowed me to emerge stronger in faith and even more understanding of those suffering and more committed than ever to serving you… And in continuing the fight against violence, racism, and poverty. We have a whole lot to do…it’s time to get to work.”
Fr. Michael Pfleger plans to address his future plans in detail with a message to his congregation when he returns to the pulpit on June 5th.
Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20.