Click here if you don’t see subscription options
 In this July 7, 2018, file photo, Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of the Saint Sabina Catholic church on Chicago's Southside, speaks to protesters before marching on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago. In a letter written to the Saint Sabina community, Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich announced Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, he has asked Pfleger to step aside from his ministry following receipt of a sexual abuse allegation of a minor by Pfleger more than 40 years earlier. (AP Photo/Annie Rice, File)

CHICAGO (RNS) — The Rev. Michael Pfleger has temporarily stepped down from his ministry leading the Roman Catholic Faith Community of St. Sabina amid allegations of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, shared the news in a letter Tuesday (Jan. 5) to members of the Faith Community of St. Sabina and St. Sabina Academy, a predominantly Black parish on the city’s South Side.

“It is crucial that you know nothing is more important than the welfare of the children entrusted to our care,” Cupich wrote. “The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and encourages anyone who feels they have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee to come forward.”

In keeping with the archdiocese’s child protection policies, the cardinal wrote, he asked Pfleger, 70, to step aside from ministry after its Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review received the allegation. The archdiocese has reported the allegation to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney.

The archdiocese also has started its own investigation, according to Cupich, who noted in his letter that the allegations “have not been proven as true or false” and “guilt or innocence should not be assumed.”
Pfleger has agreed to fully cooperate. 

In a statement posted to his Facebook page on Jan. 6, Father Pfleger said he is “devastated, hurt and yes angry” and asked for prayers for his parishioners and for the person who made the accusation. 

“I have been asked by the [arch]Diocese not to speak out at this time. I am Blessed with good leadership and amazing members, whom I love,” he wrote.

The Rev. Thulani Magwaza, associate pastor at St. Sabina, will fill his role at the church and school, according to the letter.

Pfleger came to St. Sabina Church as an associate pastor in 1975, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
He is well known in the city for his activism, particularly against gun violence. He also is no stranger to controversy. He took a leave of absence after criticizing then-Sen. Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential primaries and was suspended for a month in 2011 by then-Cardinal Francis George after insisting he’d leave the Roman Catholic Church before he’d leave St. Sabina to take an assignment at a nearby Catholic high school, according to NBC 5 Chicago.

“Please know that you are in my prayers. We will do our best to keep you informed of developments as they occur,” Cupich wrote.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has offered the services of its Victim Assistance Ministry to the person who reported the allegation, according to the letter.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

The troubled Catholic outlet's fate was announced by a law firm representing a priest who had sued Church Militant for defamation.
The new recording of “How Great Thou Art” features a new verse, a different beat and a chance to provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans in the midst of war.
Is our intense focus on the form of liturgical celebration placing a disproportionate emphasis upon the Eucharist as the summit of Christian life?
Michael OlsonMarch 04, 2024
In a speech read by an aide, Pope Francis told a group of grieving parents that the best response to grief is “to imitate the emotion and compassion of Jesus in the face of pain.”