Father Michael Pfleger, a Chicago priest known for his political activism, has been cleared by an archdiocesan review board of charges of child sexual abuse.
“The Review Board has concluded there is insufficient reason to suspect Father Pfleger is guilty of these allegations,” wrote Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, in a letter to the St Sabina “faith community,” where Fr Pfleger has long served as senior pastor. The Cardinal announced that he is reinstating Fr Pfleger in his position, but has asked him to take two weeks “to prepare himself spiritually and emotionally to return” to the parish.
“The nightmare is over,” Fr Pfleger said in front of St Sabina’s, after Cardinal Cupich’s decision was made public. He added, “I’ve been frustrated. I’ve been angry. I’ve been depressed and I’ve been discouraged. I’m a man of faith but I’m also a human being who believes.”
Father Pfleger has consistently denied the allegations made against him, and in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning repeated, “I am innocent of those charges and accusations, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am to God and to all those who prayed for me and supported me during this painful time.”
Fr Pfleger was accused by two brothers of having sexually abused them more than forty years ago. A third, unrelated accuser later came forward. In his letter, Cardinal Cupich said the investigation into the charges was made in compliance with archdiocesan safeguarding policies, and was carried out by an Independent Review Board assisted by the Office of Child Abuse Investigation and Review and outside investigators.
When the results of the archdiocesan investigation were announced, the accusers’ attorney, Eugene Hollander said his clients were disappointed in the outcome. “I totally disagree with it. We provided overwhelming evidence to the review board.”
As is typical in Church-run investigations, the Archdiocese provided few details of the investigation. The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests – an activist network supporting survivors of clerical sexual abuse – called on the Archdiocese of Chicago to be more transparent in all cases of sexual abuse that come before the review board.
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